Dieter Zetsche in a private audience with Pope Francis
Stuttgart/Rome – Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, handed over the key to the Popemobile to Pope Francis yesterday at a private meeting in the Vatican. Pope Francis will use the M-Class, which was built especially for him, at the end of July when he makes his first official visit to Brazil. During their encounter, Zetsche and Pope Francis also discussed sustainable and safer mobility as well as the Daimler AG’s charitable commitment.
„We are delighted that His Holiness Pope Francis has decided to trust in the safety and comfort of our vehicles and that, by providing the popemobile, we will continue to accompany him on his travels in the future,“ said Zetsche after the meeting in the Domus Santa Marta, the guest house of the Vatican and the Pope’s current residence. „This tradition is a huge source of pride to us.“
The Mercedes-Benz brand has been providing vehicles for the trips and official appearances of the head of the Catholic Church for more than 80 years. This involvement began in 1930 with a Nürburg 460 pullman saloon for Pope Pius XI and continued in the 1960s when a 300d landaulet convertible with automatic transmission was built for Pope John XXIII. His successor, Paul VI, used a Mercedes-Benz 600 pullman landaulet and, later, a 300 SEL. The name ‘popemobile’ was first used in the 1980s in reference to the modified Mercedes-Benz G-Class that Pope John Paul II regularly used for celebrations in Saint Peter’s Square. The G-Class was replaced by a Mercedes-Benz M-Class in 2002. This specially built version was also used by his successor, Benedict XVI.
During his visit to the Vatican, Daimler’s chairman also spoke to the Pope about Daimler AG’s twin aims of creating a sustainable future for transport and fulfilling its responsibility towards the environment and society. In 2013 and 2014 alone, Daimler will invest 10.8 billion euro in research and development activities. About half of the investments will be used directly for green technologies. Daimler also meets the responsibility it has towards society as a multinational car manufacturer and a pioneer of the industry by undertaking a broad range of activities in the fields of science, education, art, culture and charitable projects. In 2012, the company donated a total of 58 million euro to not-for-profit institutions and social projects around the world.