Pope Francis is now motoring around the Vatican City in Europe’s version of the Chevrolet Bolt, the Opel Ampera E, after receiving one from Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann at a recent event in Vatican City.
Given the church’s often stuffy reputation, you wouldn’t expect the pontiff to be on the leading edge of vehicle technology, but he is likely among the first Ampera E owners in Europe, as GM has just started producing the car for Opel.
That German brand used to be part of the General Motors’ portfolio, but was sold in March 2017 to PSA Peugeot Citroen.
This is not Francis’ first foray into electric vehicles. Earlier in 2017, he was given the use of a Nissan LEAF for a year by a Berlin man who wanted to encourage the Vatican to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Francis, well-known for his desire to eliminate poverty, unsurprising chose the LEAF over a Tesla Model S that was offered as an alternative.
Francis isn’t even the first pope to use an EV. In 2012, Benedict XVI received a customized electric Renault Kangoo from that French automaker.
The 80-year-old pontiff, who was named leader of the Catholic church in 2013, gets gifted vehicles fairly frequently. In 2015, he took ownership of a Jeep Wrangler and a Hyundai Santa Fe, both of which were modified for him to ride in during papal visits abroad.
And in 2005, Benedict received a BMW X5 and two Volkswagen ambulances, all of which were gifts from those manufacturers.