Pope Gets a New LEAF in His EV Fleet

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POPE Francis’ “Laudato si’ Action Platform” is getting charged up again with the delivery of a Nissan LEAF to the Pontiff’s garage. Delivered on the celebration of World Environment Day, the gesture symbolized the two organizations’ shared goal of carbon neutrality.

The Vatican seems to have several environmentally conscious vehicles in its fleet. In 2010, the Japanese bishops’ conference turned over a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, responding to a call from the Pope and his revitalized efforts to respect the environment.

At that time, the Vatican’s garage also said it was gradually trying to replace all of its service vehicles with an all-electric fleet and several car manufacturers have pledged or donated different kinds of electric vehicles. Last month, Fisker pledged an all-electric Popemobile based on the Fisker Ocean.

The new LEAF was received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State. “I am honored, on behalf of Nissan, to support the Holy See on the path towards the decarbonization of its operations, a goal which Nissan shares,” Marco Toro, Managing Director for Nissan in Italy, said as he handed over the keys of the white LEAF during a special ceremony at the Vatican.

The Pope’s environmental action platform seeks to make Catholic institutions environmentally sustainable within seven years. The project name directly lifts from the Pope’s landmark 2015 encyclical “Laudato si’: On Caring for the Earth.” The action platform carries out the content of the encyclical, pledging that the Vatican will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Along with this is a commitment that the city-state will intensify actions to oversee the protection of the environment, work towards rational use of natural resources, and plant more trees.

“We are working towards 75% of our sales in Europe being electrified by 2023, with a fully electrified range in the 2030s. This builds on the heritage of the Nissan LEAF as the world’s first mass-market EV, with 530,000 cars on the road having saved more than 2.8 million tons of CO2 worldwide,” Toro added.

“Today’s event is testament to our desire to collaborate with the Holy See to help them reach their sustainability goals and their commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This is part of Pope Francis’ wider effort to protect the environment, as outlined in 2015 in his Laudato si’ Encyclical on Care for our Common Home and announced at the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020,” Ben Greenwood, UK Consul General in Milan and Director of the Department for International Trade in Italy, commented. The LEAF that was donated is assembled at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK.

As part of its global journey to net zero, Nissan will offer an electrified version of all of its vehicles in Europe by the end of 2023. This builds on more than a decade of experience from launching the Nissan LEAF as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. Upcoming innovations include the launch of vehicles with Nissan’s unique e-POWER technology, such as the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail, as well as the new all-electric Nissan Ariya and a new electric van.

In a press statement last year, Roberto Mignucci, director of workshops and equipment for the office governing Vatican City State, said that it will be collaborating with automobile manufacturers who are able to provide electric vehicles for evaluation, adding that an electric fleet was perfect due to the small size of the 109-acre city-state and the close proximity of its extraterritorial properties. He estimated that the average annual mileage of Vatican vehicles is fewer than 4,000 miles.

The Vatican also plans to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations it already has installed within and just outside of St. Peter’s Square.

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Raymond Tribdino

Raymond Gregory Tribdino is the motoring & information technology editor of Malaya Business Insight (www.malaya.com.ph) in the Philippines. He has been covering automotive, transport, and IT since 1992. His passion for electric vehicles started with the failed electrification of a scooter in 1994. He wrote for EVWorld.com, one of the pioneer electric vehicle websites, in 1997. He was a college professor for 8 years at the Philippine Women’s University. He is also now a podcaster co-hosting for the Philippines' top-rated YouTube tech site “TechSabado” and the baby-boomer popular “Today is Tuesday.” He is a husband and father of five, a weekend mechanic and considers himself a handyman, an amateur ecologist, and environmentalist. He is back to trying to electrify motorcycles starting with a plug-in trail motorcycle.

Raymond Tribdino has 108 posts and counting. See all posts by Raymond Tribdino