New Popemobile for Pope Francis in the Making?
There might be a new “Popemobile” for Pope Francis and Detroit has an interesting connection to the pontiff’s latest ride. It seems that the head of the Roman Catholic Church has a keen interest in the environment. Last month he hosted a conference – Laudato Sì: The Sustainability of Communication and Innovation – to discuss the need for environmental sustainability.
The press has referred to the Pope’s rides as the “Popemobile” for years. There has not been only one vehicle used, but a wide variety and some used solely when he visited a specific country. But Pope Francis, the current head of the church, is a simple minimalist type of guy. As a Cardinal, he often took public buses. On the night of his election as Pope, he rode with the other cardinals in a minibus back to their hotel instead of using the papal limousine. For trips within the Vatican City, he has been spotted piloting a small Ford Focus from the Vatican’s fleet.
The Pope has often referred to the need for people to seek long-term solutions to the environmental woes. Towards that end, the Pope, as head of the Vatican City, pledged to become the first CO2 free country moving towards a zero carbon imprint. In compliance with the Pope’s wishes, the government will focus on electric cars and renewable energy resources.
As part of those efforts, Opel presented the Pope a new Opel Ampera-e. The Ampera-e is a new offering in Europe and offers a five seater with an all-electric range of over 300 miles. The Pope may not be heavy footed, but the car does go 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds.
And the Detroit connection?
Look closely at the photos and you’ll recognize the Opel Ampera-e is essentially a re-badged Chevy Bolt. It seems that before GM sold off the European Opel operations, they agreed to continue offering the American made Bolt to Opel. The new Ampera-e’s are just now arriving to the first European customers in Norway, but the Pope must have cut in line.
Now the Ampera-e may not cruise the roads when the Pope is touring to see his faithful followers, but it certainly could be the start of something electrifying!