In a private meeting at the Vatican on Tuesday, Pope Francis received the keys to his new Popemobile directly from Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The newest Mercedes M-Class popemobile was built specifically for Pope Francis, just as other Popes have had Mercedes design and build unique models in the past. His Holiness also received a smart eBike in addition to the latest Papal vehicle.
During their time together, Zetsche and Pope Francis also discussed Daimler AG’s aim to create an environmentally friendly and sustainable future for the automotive industry, starting in part by investing 10.8 billion euros in research and development (about half of which will be used directly for researching and developing clean green technologies). Zetsche also spoke about Daimler’s continued effort to be a responsible leader in business, taking on a variety of charitable projects as well as activities in the fields of science, education, art, culture. In 2012 alone, Daimler donated 58 million Euro to not-for-profit institutions and social projects around the world.
After his meeting with the Pope, Zetsche noted that “This tradition is a huge source of pride to us,” and Daimler is “delighted that His Holiness Pope Francis has decided to trust in the safety and comfort of our vehicles and that, by providing the popemobile, we will continue to accompany him on his travels in the future.”
The Mercedes-Benz brand has been providing vehicles for the Pope’s trips and official appearances for more than 80 years, starting in 1930 with a Nürburg 460 pullman saloon for Pope Pius XI and again in the 1960s with a 300d landaulet convertible specially built for Pope John XXIII. When Paul VI succeeded him, he used a Mercedes-Benz 600 pullman landaulet and later switched to a 300 SEL. The term ‘popemobile’, however, was not used until the 1980s, when it was first used in reference to a modified Mercedes G-Class that was used by Pope John Paul II. The Pope’s Mercedes G-Class was later replaced by the M-Class Mercedes in 2002.