By on June 21, 2011

The Pope is working on his green creds. When the German Pope Benedikt XVI will come to Germany in September, he will wave at the faithful from a plug-in hybrid. Made in Germany, of course.  Mercedes is putting the finishing touches on a new popemobile. Based on the new M-Klasse, it is powered by a 60 hp hybrid module. The lithium io battery will supposedly be rechargeable in 60 minute, allowing the Pope to travel for 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) on heavenly electrical power alone. Once depleted, the ICE kicks in.

Why no pure plug-in? Deranged-anxiety. In case of an attack, the car must be “escape-capable,” as Gemany’s Wirtschaftswoche reports.

In the meantime, mere mortals are lacking divine inspiration. Says USA Today:

“Despite months of high gas prices, a bevy of new fuel-stingy cars with conventional gas engines may be eating into sales of pricier gas-electric hybrids.”

“Sales of high-mileage, high-value conventional compacts such as the Hyundai Elantra (shown above), Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze are hot, while hybrid sales have stagnated.”

Why? Filthy lucre.

“Even with the fuel savings, it doesn’t make sense to buy a hybrid” for many buyers, says J.D. Power Senior Manager Mike Omotoso. “This year, we had $4 gas (in many cities) but we saw the introduction of compacts that get 40 mpg. All of these cars are considerably cheaper than hybrids.”

 

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9 Comments on “While The Pope Goes Green, Mortals Get Gas...”


  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Makes sense, the Pope wants to be able to sweep angelically past his minions and be heard saying “bless you my son”. Choking them with a chugging Diesel probably isn’t the best way to impress the masses these days.

    Hybrids are still way ahead on city mileage, so anyone looking at new cars specifically on a cost-to-own basis should figure out their expected urban/freeway ratio and not just look at the freeway figures and conclude there’s not much difference.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Makes sense, the Pope wants to be able to sweep angelically past his minions and be heard saying “bless you my son”. Choking them with a chugging Diesel probably isn’t the best way to impress the masses these days.”

      Clearly you’ve never been to Texas.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    “Even with the fuel savings, it doesn’t make sense to buy a hybrid” for many buyers, says J.D. Power Senior Manager Mike Omotoso. “This year, we had $4 gas (in many cities) but we saw the introduction of compacts that get 40 mpg. All of these cars are considerably cheaper than hybrids.”

    Those pragmatic EV hating Germans! When are they going to understand that you don’t buy EV’s because they make sense, you buy them because it’s the right thing to do. Sarcasm mode off..

  • avatar
    tced2

    Sounds like we’ve heard this operation cycle before – first on battery – then ICE when battery exhausted. “Range anxiety” has been replaced by “escape anxiety”. Oh wait a minute -it’s the Volt.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    So the Popemobile is a essentially a Mercedes built Chevy Volt.

    Very serious question about Papal security. I would suspect that the Popemobile’s first mission is to protect the Pope by being a hard target; but how hard of a target can you be in a bubble of balistic glass. Would the second phase of protecting the Pope be agility, to move the Pope quickly out of what military ops would call “the kill zone,” and is a hybrid/ICE system up to that challenge?

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Quick acceleration from electric motors, low center of gravity from batteries, no engine idling for short periods when he’s in a crowd, a gas engine for the high A/C load from all that glass and sufficient range for escape over distance.

      There are clearly some urban and specialized applications where hybrid electric power is a clear advantage. While it’s rare for me to be on the same side as the Pope, it seems like they’ve thought about this.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Doesn’t the popemobile get flown around in a private jet? Wouldn’t the most energy savings be obtained by making the vehicle as light as possible instead of adding hundreds of pounds in batteries and electric motors?

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      The Pope flies much less frequently than the President, so it’s less of an issue. Besides, with this class of vehicle, energy efficiency is subordinate to effectiveness anyway. (Otherwise, why not just borrow an armored Mercedes from the host country?)

      As an aside, purely to be pedantic: I learned recently that the Vatican doesn’t own an aircraft. Instead, they typically charter an Alitalia airliner for the outbound trip, and an airliner from the host country’s flag airline for the return.


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