VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI was presented with his first electric car Wednesday, a customized white Renault Kangoo for jaunts around the gardens of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Benedict has been dubbed the ‘‘green pope’’ for his environmental concerns, which have been a hallmark of his papacy.
Under his watch, the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on its main auditorium and joined a reforestation project to offset its carbon dioxide emissions.
But now the pope has his own ozone-preserving electric car, which he used on Wednesday to travel from the helipad at Castel Gandolfo through the gardens back to his palazzo.
Earlier this year, Italian automaker NWG donated an electric car to the Vatican, but it was for the press office to use. Renault on Wednesday also turned over the keys to a blue version of the Kangoo for the Vatican gendarmes to tool around Vatican City.
Though Benedict’s Renault is white and carries the papal seal on its doors, it isn’t a popemobile. Mercedes-Benz, which makes the customized popemobile with bullet-proof windows for the pope to use on trips outside the Vatican, has been studying a hybrid, energy-saving model.