After clandestine meetings with Pope Francis, Fisker is reportedly going to develop an electric Popemobile — a term the Vatican has repeatedly asked everyone to stop using. Due to arrive next year, the vehicle is supposed to be a heavily modified version of the brand’s upcoming electric Ocean crossover.
Pope Francis has long been presenting himself as a surface-level environmentalist with absolutely terrible taste in automobiles. He added two Toyota Mirais to the Status Civitatis Vaticanae garage in 2020 while predictably flipping a Lamborghini Huracán (built specifically for him by the company) in 2018. His Alleged Holiness is also said to be partial to the Fiat 500L, Nissan Frontier, and Isuzu D-Max — though he frequently rides around in locally produced customs as a way to ingratiate himself with the masses he’s visiting. Provided they’ve met the needs of the trip and cater specifically to the pope’s preferences, he’s not picky.
According to Fisker, that meant giving the Ocean additional eco-conscious features like a carpet made from recycled plastic and a solar roof. The automaker was given a private audience with Frances and company on Thursday and the design has been agreed upon for development, according to Reuters.
While most Popemobiles have traditionally required bulletproof glass, Francis has gone without on several of his vehicles and plans to use plain old glass on the Ocean’s cupola. He claims that he’s not particularly worried about assassination at his age, even though his private security team (the Pontifical Swiss Guard) consists of 135 armed men.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently stated that electrifying the presidential limo has become a priority for Joe Biden. Following his public endorsement (commercial, really) of Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Psaki was asked by reporters if Biden would consider electrifying the General Motors limo colloquially known as “The Beast.”
“That’s certainly something the President has talked about and is an objective for him,” she responded.
Considering the car already weighs upwards of 15,000 pounds, it’s difficult to imagine the stretch making it through a single parade before needing to be recharged. There’s also no obvious place to install the batteries as the vehicle is already heavily armored, including the undercarriage where those battery packs would need to be installed.
More realistically, the limo could become hybridized — offering the practical advantages of gasoline while giving the White House an opportunity to pretend it’s done something environmentally relevant by redesigning one vehicle. There are even potential logistical advantages associated with swapping to a hybrid powertrain. But we don’t think Psaki thought about the physics behind any of it and likely just answered the question in the only way that aligned with the administration’s stated environmental and infrastructure goals.
[Image: Lamborghini; Fisker]