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ETA offers to build pedal-powered Popemobile

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April 15, 2013

The pedal-powered Popemobile concept from Yannick Read of the ETA

The pedal-powered Popemobile concept from Yannick Read of the ETA

Shortly before that time of the year traditionally reserved for all manner of tomfoolery, the UK's Environmental Transport Association (ETA) released details of a pedal-powered Popemobile concept that many immediately assumed to be a joke. Gizmag caught up with its designer, Yannick Read of Hornster and Bond Bike fame, to find out if the environmentally-friendly pontiff-carrier proposal is genuine or fake.

Read says that the idea for creating a pedal-powered Popemobile began with the previous pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. When Mercedes modified an ML430 SUV into a hybrid gas/electric Popemobile for the so-called Green Pope in 2011, he was struck by the notion that His Holiness could take the next logical step and travel "in as green a way as possible."

His concept for an electric assist, pedal-powered, 3-wheeled Popemobile would see armor-plated, blast-proof body panels made from titanium and ceramic composite, with 8-mm bullet-proof Plexiglass windows. The cabin would feature low-power spotlights in the floor and roof, and a built-in oxygen supply.

Read claims that the vehicle would not require a brace of clergy to provide the kind of leg power needed to chauffeur the current leader of the Catholic Church past the crowds of adoring followers, but will only have one "driver" out in front, able to call on six levels of assistance from an included 1.5 kW electric motor.

The designer has already bashed out the details with an electric bike manufacturer and designed a bespoke emergency power train that will deliver a top speed of 38 mph (61 km/h). PV panels on the roof will help to top up an onboard battery bank.

So is it a joke? The concept was unveiled to coincide with the Easter break, but the unfortunate timing caused many to assume that this was an April Fool prank. Read, however, insists that the design represents "a serious offer to the Vatican next time they look to buy a gas-guzzling, petrol-powered Popemobile."

"The pedal-powered Popemobile is unusual by virtue of the fact it's still on the drawing board – for the time being at least," he added. "It's too niche a product and too expensive an endeavor to build the vehicle without a firm order from the Vatican, which is why we have released only a render of the design. However, we've completed enough research and development to be in a position to offer a fully-functioning pedal-powered Popemobile for sale. We have already sent details of the vehicle to the Vatican's vehicle procurement team, but have yet to receive a reply."

The price of the build has been pitched at £175,000 (US$228,000).

Source: ETA

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
6 Comments

How do you get away in a hurry in case of an incident?

Bullet proof ai?

Nairda
15th April, 2013 @ 09:24 pm PDT

Hope it comes with AC; then it would be a really COOL Pope-Cycle! ;-)

Sorry, just couldn't resist.

Roger Wildermuth
16th April, 2013 @ 12:01 am PDT

How do you get away in a hurry in case of an incident?

Bullet proof ai?

==no it has that 1.5kW motor, that would be about 20 mph - down hill!

as far as AC, yes it would need that - otherwise it would be a pope-roaster

that would only take about 3kW to provide, from a pilot with about 0.2kW to give..

wle

wle
16th April, 2013 @ 09:52 am PDT

Looks like an upscale rickshaw to me. Frank should love it.

JAT
16th April, 2013 @ 11:01 am PDT

Suppose the pope suffers a medical emergence no worries the hospital is only an hour and a half away; it would only be four minutes by automobile but it green.

So long as the ETA thinks that is a logical step and that using a man as a beast of burden is a good idea, the ETA is a sad joke.

Slowburn
16th April, 2013 @ 12:35 pm PDT

Should take some design cues from the VOI scooter.

http://www.gizmag.com/voi-electric-scooter/27075/

Put the Pope up front, because people came to see him, not the pedaling powerplant. And make it all electric instead of hybrid. Also, enclose him in a bullet-resistant cylindrical barrier, not a flat-sided cube. Curved surfaces withstand and deflect forces better. That's why the pressure hulls of deep-diving submersibles are spherical.

Gadgeteer
16th April, 2013 @ 03:26 pm PDT
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