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Popemobile plugs in

The new Pope Mobile is powered by a 44kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery with a range of 170km.

French carmaker Renault has presented His Holiness Benedict XVI with two specially modified electric Kangoo Maxi ZE (zero emissions) vans.

Modifications include an opening roof, electric folding door steps, removable rear side windows and “particularly comfortable” separate seats in the rear as the ageing Pope prefers to sit rather than stand.

One will be used by the Pope for travelling at his summer residence and the other by the Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City for the Pope's security. The Pope's “green'' van is white with the Papal coat of arms on the doors while the other has white and yellow livery.

The new Pope Mobile is powered by a 44kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery with a range of 170km. Over the years Pope Mobiles have been based on a variety of vehicles including Mercedes-Benz SUVs, a Seat Panda and a big GMC pick-up truck.

Some have been open air, but most have bulletproof glass since the Ali Agca assassination attempt in 1981. Some allow the Pope to sit, while others are designed to accommodate the pope standing. In Australia, Renault is introducing a range of electric vehicles over the next few years starting with the Turkish-made Fluence ZE expected to arrive later this year at under $40,000 plus the cost of leasing a battery.