Pope gets two Popemobiles before Christmas

Pope Benedict XVI has received not just one but two early high-tech Christmas gifts this year: two new Popemobiles, the Vatican said early Saturday (Manila time).

The Vatican's news site said the Popemobiles are customized Mercedes-Benz M-Class vehicles fitted with the latest technology.

Benedict XVI was to use the new Popemobile Saturday, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, during his traditional journey to the heart of Rome to pay homage to the statue of the Virgin in Piazza di Spagna, it said.

Vatican Radio's quoted Thomas Zeeb, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart, as saying the new Class M Popemobile includes top-of the range air-conditioning and lighting.

It also has a communications system between the driver and the rear dome.

"The body of the car is, as usual, mother of pearl white and a few centimeters lower than the previous model, to allow easier air transport, which is essential in the many trips that the Pope undertakes," he said.

He added the new Popemobile's design started last year, taking nine months to adapt to the needs of the Pontiff.

Like its predecessors, the newest Popemobile runs on unleaded gas.

Meanwhile, the Popemobiles that are at the end of their road-life are housed in the respective museums of the Vatican City State and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. — TJD, GMA News

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