Vatican in deal with Volkswagen for all-electric car fleet by 2030

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican on Wednesday signed an agreement with German carmaker Volkswagen to replace the city-state's entire car fleet with electric vehicles by 2030.

The governor's office of the world's smallest state gave no financial details of the deal in a statement but said would involve medium- and long-term leasing of Volkswagen and Skoda cars.

It said the "partnership accord" with the Volkswagen Group was one of the ways the 108-acre sovereign city-state aims to reach a long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral and relying exclusively on renewable energy.

The Vatican's fleet of cars includes dozens of vehicles, most of them dark blue. A pool of drivers take senior Vatican officials to events in Rome and beyond. The fleet also includes many maintenance, gardening and delivery vehicles.

Many lower-ranking Vatican officials and employees own and drive their own cars into the city-state from Rome.

The statement said the Vatican would build a network of electric charging stations inside its walls and at its properties in Rome. Employees will be allowed to use them for their private cars, apparently as an incentive to move away from fossil fuels.

The pope currently is driven inside the Vatican and around Rome in either a Ford Focus or a Fiat 500, both of them simple versions. He has shunned the large, gas-guzzling bulletproof limousines favoured by his predecessors.

It was not clear if the deal with Volkswagen eventually will cover the "popemobiles", the specially built, high, white vehicles which transport the pope through crowds in St Peter's Square. One currently in use is a Mercedes.

Francis, 86, has made protection of the environment a hallmark of his papacy and often has called for a transition away from fossil fuels.
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