AutosPope Francis to drive an electric Volkswagen

Pope Francis to drive an electric Volkswagen

"Handover of Volkswagen ID.3 in the Vatican"
"Handover of Volkswagen ID.3 in the Vatican"
Images source: © Press materials | Volkswagen AG

11:39 AM EST, November 21, 2023

Volkswagen has delivered the first two out of 40 ordered electric cars to Pope Francis. As part of a fleet decarbonization initiative, the head of the Vatican and his officials will be driving models ID.3, ID.4, and ID.5.

Volkswagen ID.3 electric cars now feature in Pope Francis's collection. The cars were ceremonially delivered at the Vatican by Volkswagen representatives: Imelda Labbe, a board member at Volkswagen, Dr. Christian Dahlheim, the CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, and Dr. Markus Osegowitsch, the CEO of Volkswagen Group Italia.

The vehicles have batteries boasting a functional capacity of 58 kW and a WLTP range of around 266 miles. Famously modest, the Pope opted for the base version of the ID.3. As seen in photos, the cars have steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, no-extra-cost grey paint, and basic LED headlights.

  • Volkswagen ID.3
  • Volkswagen ID.3
[1/2] Volkswagen ID.3Images source: © Press materials | Volkswagen

The papal fleet isn't new to electric cars. Among other vehicles, Francis has a popemobile based on a hydrogen Toyota Mirai and a BMW i3. In 2012, Renault presented Pope Benedict XVI with a specially modified electric Kangoo Z.E. he used at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

  • Toyota Mirai Popemobile
  • Toyota Mirai Popemobile
  • Pope Francis and BMW i3
  • Renault Kangoo Popemobile
[1/4] Toyota Mirai PopemobileImages source: © Press materials | FRANCO ORIGLIA

These electric Volkswagens, however, were not gifted but are part of a larger batch of cars ordered by the Vatican through an agreement with the leasing company Volkswagen Financial Services. The fleet will be supplemented by 38 more VW electrics next year, including ID.4 and ID.5 models. Electric models of other Volkswagen Group brands will also be added in the coming years. Volkswagen is a project partner aiming for the Vatican's entire car park to be climate-neutral by 2030.

"Electrification of vehicle fleets is gaining increasing importance worldwide. It's a great honor for our brand that Vatican employees will soon join the ranks of Volkswagen ID drivers. This choice underlines the appeal of cars from our ID range," said Imelda Labbé during the Vatican vehicle handover.

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