Pope Francis to take delivery of most low-carbon form of transport possible – if designs are approved today
Now we all know there's a new Pope in town and that the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics have but one question on their lips – is Pope Francis going to keep his predecessor's fleet of electric cars?
Well, like for those many other thorny religious questions, frankly the Tank doesn't have an answer, other than to say that that would be an ecumenical matter.
But what we can tell you is Pope Francis is not only fond of taking the bus, as was widely reported, but will also soon take charge of the first ever pedal-powered Popemobile.
Of course this is not one of those tuk-tuks most famous for bothering tourists in London's West End. No, this is a £175,000 armour-plated, pedal-powered limousine, albeit one that boasts a range of green features.
Solar panels on the roof power the air conditioning and charge a 1.5kW electric motor, while low-voltage spotlights in the floor and roof compartment illuminate Pope Francis for his adoring public.
The Popemobile has an operating speed of around 6mph – similar to the pontiff's current Mercedes – but according to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), which was originally commissioned to build the vehicle by Pope Benedict, it is capable of whisking His Holiness away from any trouble at up to 40mph.
Should the designs be approved today by the Pope's private secretary, Comte Lapin du Pâques, the new Popemobile should be delivered this summer.
"Cycling is the great leveller – a means of transport as serene as it is practical and an entirely appropriate way for a Pope to travel," genuflected designer Yannick Read.
"The green credentials of the vehicle dovetail perfectly with Pope Francis' image as the people's pontiff."
And we have to applaud this most low-carbon of transport methods, even if we are struggling to shake images of the Flintstones from our minds.
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