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Pope To Roll Through Germany in an Electric Car

Mercedes is building a hybrid Popemobile for Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit. That’s a departure from the usual—for every day getting around, His Holiness sticks to Italian makes.

Pope Benedict in a past trip to Germany (John_Brennan)
Pope Benedict in a past trip to Germany (John_Brennan)
Holger Holzer

For the first time the Pope will have electrically-powered wheels. Or at least partially. According to the German magazine Wirtschafts Woche, Mercedes is building a hybrid for Pope Benedict XVI's September 2011 state visit to his homeland.

The Popemobile will be based on the new generation SUV ML model that will also be available as a hybrid version to the common consumer. In his custom-made vehicle, the Pope will be shielded by bullet proof glass. The electric, armored four-wheel drive can go for up to 30 km before needing to be recharged, but a switch over to a petrol-powered engine is always possible.

Mercedes had built the first modern-day Popemobile for John Paul II, who, unlike his predecessors, felt it was important to be more accessible to his flock. However, a convertible was out of the question, so Mercedes came up with the glassed-covered sit-and-wave solution.

That vehicle had been based on an all-terrain Mercedes G class. Following an assassination attempt on the Pope in 1981 it became the vehicle he used for all his public appearances.

The car had a special gear that enabled it to be driven at very low, constant speeds. A raised seat covered by a bullet proof glass dome was mounted behind the driver and mother of pearl colored lacquer added that touch of elegance.

For many years, the papal Mercedes was taken on all the pope's foreign visits. But it was soon replaced. Today's Popemobile is no longer based on the G model, but on the more comfortable M class.

Despite the Vatican's history with Mercedes, the Pope is no poster boy for the German car maker. Other automobile manufactured have built Popemobiles for the Pontiff's trips abroad. There are some 60 of them in the world. Among the best known are those based on a Range Rover and a VW Touareg. But Ferrari has also gotten in on the game –though its vehicle didn't have the glass partition - and Cadillac built a Deville with an actual throne.

The cars may have been different, but the license plate was nearly always the same: SCV 1. The letters stand for ‘"Status Civitatis Vaticanae" (Vatican City State). Numero uno refers to the papal position as head of state.

Despite the grandeur of the Popemobiles, cars used for less momentous occasions are more run of the mill. And of Italian make. For audiences on St. Peter's Square, for example, the pontiff will often wave from a Fiat Campagnola. To get around Vatican City, there's the Lancia Thesis Jubileo, already used by John Paul II.

If what he was driving back in the day in Germany as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is any indication, His Holiness actually might have a soft spot for German cars after all. He was known to get around in a VW Golf.

Read the original article in German

Photo - John_Brennan

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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