First electric Popemobile revealed as Fisker's SUV converts to Catholicism

EV-maker Fisker may be busy working on its Ocean electric SUV, but that hasn't stopped it from taking time out to build a new Popemobile. The custom electric car was revealed during a private audience at the Vatican this week, with Henrik Fisker meeting Pope Francis to show off what's being billed as the first all-electric vehicle designed especially for the leader of the Catholic Church.

(It's worth pointing out that these images are supplied by Fisker, and we haven't photoshopped His Holiness into them. That's not something we typically have to point out, but today is clearly going to be One Of Those Days)

As the images make clear, what Fisker has in mind is a conversion of the Ocean SUV it aims to put into production in November 2022. Most distinctive is the all-glass cupola on the top, allowing the Pope to be visible as the EV crawls through adoring crowds. It'll be topped, it seems, with an array of the same solar panels with which Fisker intends to cover the regular Ocean's roof with, helping top up the batteries.

"I got inspired reading that Pope Francis is very considerate about the environment and the impact of climate change for future generations," Henrik Fisker said in a statement. "The interior of the Fisker Ocean papal transport will contain a variety of sustainable materials, including carpets made from recycled plastic bottles from the ocean."

Transporting a Pope is a serious business. Multiple different iterations of papal transport have existed over the years, with different versions of the design based on where visits are taking place. After early assassination attempts, the glass booth approach became more commonplace.

These have typically included toughened windows designed to add protection against bullets while also keeping the Pope visible, and even safety features like an independent air supply. Previous Popes have been transported in vehicles as humble as Fiats and SEATs, through to more lavish custom designs atop Mercedes and Range Rover SUVs.

That excess of caution, though, is something which Pope Francis has previously pushed back on. In an interview in 2014, he described riding in the closed-design vehicles as being "inside a sardine can."

In the case of the Fisker Ocean-based version, the automaker says it hopes to deliver the customized car to the Vatican sometime in 2022. His Holiness presumably didn't need to join the regular Ocean waiting list, which Fisker says currently has around 16,000 people on it. Similarly, the papal version will probably cost more than the $37,499 starting price for the standard Ocean in the US (before destination and any incentives) which Fisker has already announced.

It's unlikely, though, that the Vatican will have to pay for it. Traditionally, papal transportation of this sort is donated as a gift by the automakers; Fisker has not confirmed whether that's the case this time around, or indeed whether the EV suggestion was its own or from the Vatican. "Fisker agreed to supply an all-electric Ocean," a spokesperson told SlashGear.