Pope gets green ride from French car maker

PARIS, Sept 6 Thu Sep 6, 2012 10:05am EDT

PARIS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict will be able to limit his impact on the environment as he travels around his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo thanks to a new custom-made electric vehicle donated by French car maker Renault.

The white-coloured vehicle has the Papal coat of arms on its doors, Renault said on Thursday. Based on the Kangoo Maxi van, it has a 44 kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion battery, and can travel 170 kilometres without recharging.

"It is an ecological, sustainable-development version of the Popemobile," Renault said.

Renault also presented a second electric vehicle for use by the Vatican Corps of Gendarmerie for the pope's security, similar to the first but with blue livery and a white and yellow stripe along each side.

The vehicles, which were handed over to the pope by Renault head Carlos Ghosn, were developed with French coach builder Gruau, Renault said.

The public is used to seeing the pope travelling in a white Popemobile, based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class with bulletproof windows. (Reporting by James Regan; editing by James Jukwey)