Mercedes-Benz developing the hybrid Popemobile

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 23, 2011

Mercedes-Benz is currently developing the new Popemobile that would be based on a M-class SUV and will be fitted with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s expected to have enough power so that it could run more than 16 miles at low cruising speeds, enabling the faithful to view the pontiff as he passes by.

But at higher speeds, the petrol engine will take over. The German business paper Wirtschaftswoche revealed that the pope initially favored an all-electric car but the plan was changed since a battery won’t have the power and speed required to propel the five-ton vehicle during an emergency.

Mercedes has not provided many details about this project. In fact, a source would only say that the vehicle is being developed "on behalf of customers in the Vatican.” Citing confidentiality, Rob Halloway, public relations manager for Mercedes Benz cars, said that it cannot comment on a Papal vehicle.

Pope Benedict is set to visit his homeland at the end of September but according to Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, the new Popemobile wouldn’t be seen there as it will only be ready at the end of 2011 at the earliest.

Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology found inside the latest generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class, this SUV is sure to become a new benchmark in its class in terms of energy efficiency, passive safety, ride comfort and driving dynamics. In addition, the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers a revised interior design with remarkable ergonomics.

The new Mercedes-Benz M-Class is at the top of its game when it comes to efficiency, with the entire model range consuming 25 percent less fuel than their respective predecessors. This marks the first time that Mercedes-Benz managed to reduce fuel consumption by such a huge percentage when releasing a new SUV model. This excellent upgrade in efficiency is thanks to several measures like ultramodern engine line-up, a best-in-class Cd value of 0.32, extensive BlueEFFICIENCY elements and new development tools like the "energy-transparent vehicle." In particular, the Mercedes ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC is around 28 percent more fuel efficient than the model it replaces – with the ability to burn just around six liters of fuel per 100 km and emit only 158 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer (as per NEDC driving cycle).

This means that this particular model could travel up to 1,500 kilometers before needing to refuel again. Passenger safety is one of the Mercedes-Benz’s tantras and it has managed to fully embody its holistic safety concept of Real Life Safety with the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class. This new SUV offering from Mercedes features a high-strength passenger cell as well as front and rear deformation zones – all ensuring that occupants are well-protected during an accident. Moreover, the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class boasts of a much-improved active safety and driver-fitness safety thanks to the integration of assistance systems derived from the S-Class and E-Class. Excellent ride comfort and superior driving dynamics are what also defines the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class range, thanks to available new chassis developments and state-of-the-art dynamic handling control systems.

These include the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM for active roll stabilization, AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System (ADS), and the ON&OFFROAD package with six driving modes. These developments and systems, along with the SUV’s steel suspension with selective damping, ensure that the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class offer a more superb experience. Moreover the new M-Class is provided with a comprehensive package of measures that ensure that it leads its segment in terms of acoustic and vibration comfort.

As soon as the driver or passengers enter the interior of the new M-Class, they would immediately feel the comforts of a first-class cabin. Surely, the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class has a strong off-road vehicle heritage; but it also offers its occupants with a very high level of comfort and convenience similar to that offered by a premium saloon. The interior of the vehicle features turned aluminum and high-quality wood, as well as detailed switches and highlights. All of these – along with dynamic lines and precise surfaces – allow both the driver and passengers to fully enjoy any trip – short or long -- comfortably and luxuriously. After all, the interior of the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class features a design concept that fuses a true SUV experience and the sense of wellbeing typical of a Mercedes-Benz saloon. Specifically, the M-Class’ expressive dome shape signifies its power as an SUV, the softly sloping dashboard up front allows for a superb sense of space.

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