His Holiness, Pope Francis, has taken delivery of a new car – and it’s as green as passenger vehicles get.
That’s because Toyota has converted a hydrogen-powered Mirai saloon into a Popemobile, having been commissioned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan as a gift to the supreme pontiff.
The modified $80,000 / £66,000 Mirai is said to fulfill Pope Francis’ deep interest in global environmental matters and will allow him to undertake public appearances with a range of 310 miles from a tank or hydrogen and emits only water from its exhaust.
His Holiness has a hydrogen car: This is the new popemobile – a converted Toyota Mirai, which is the world’s first mass-production fuel cell vehicle
As is required for all popemobiles, the converted Mirai feature an entirely redesigned rear section, with a traditional elevated seat within a viewing platform, wrapped by a safety cage so his Holiness can greet large crowds while on the move.
Steps have been fitted to the rear door sills to allow for easy access into the podium, which also has protective glass either side of the seat with the gilded Vatican crests etched into them.
Also added a pair of LED beams on the underside of the external structure and diplomat flags attached via the front wings.
The car is one of two Toyota Mirai vehicles specially made by Toyota and donated for the Holy Father’s mobility needs on the papal visit to Japan in November last year.
The modified £66,000 Mirai is said to fulfill Pope Francis’ deep interest in global environmental matter and will allow him to undertake public appearances
The vehicle has been presented to Pope Francis in the Vatican ahead of it being used for his visit to Japan next month
As with all popemobiles, the vehicle registration plates of Vatican City all begin with the letters ‘SCV’, abbreviation of the Latin Status Civitatis Vaticanae (Vatican City State”), followed by the vehicle fleet number – in this case, number 1.
A conventional Toyota Mirai uses the combination of a 153bhp electric motor powered by a hydrogen-electric generator, with the gas stored in two tanks.
It can accelerate to 62mph in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 111mph – though it will mostly be driven at a far more pedestrian pace with such precious cargo on board.
As is required for all popmobiles, the converted Mirai feature an entirely redesigned rear section, with a traditional elevated seat and safety cage fitted
There is protective glass either side of the seat with the gilded Vatican crests etched in them
Also added a pair of LED beams on the underside of the external structure and diplomat flags attached via the front wings
That means its maximum range with two full tanks of hydrogen could be extended beyond the claimed 310 miles, with just water being emitted from the tailpipe.
It also takes between just three and five minutes to refuel – significantly faster than a conventional battery electric vehicle.
The Mirai name itself translates from Japanese to English as ‘the future’ and was launched in 2015 as one of the first ever mass produced and commercially sold fuel cell vehicles – though the steep asking prices means few have been registered in the UK in the last half decade.
Steps have been fitted to the rear door sills to allow for easy access into the podium
The popemobile is based on the conventional £66,000 Mirai saloon, which has been sold in the UK since 2015
A conventional Mirai uses a 153bhp electric motor powered by a hydrogen-electric generator, with the gas stored in two tanks. It can accelerate to 62mph in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 111mph
The Japanese car maker says the popemobile is marginally stretched, measuring in at 5.1 meters instead of the conventional car’s 4.8-metres length.
It’s clearly much taller than the standard model, with the height (including the roof) of 2.7 meters allowing the Pope to stand and wave to his audience.
Toyota said: ‘Pope Francis has a deep interest in global environmental matters, which he shared in his encyclical ‘Laudato si’ ‘in 2015.
‘This is his appeal to safeguard the earth and all that surrounds us, changing our lifestyle to preserve our ‘common home’. The Toyota Mirai is well suited to his vision.’