A car boss who helped create Aston Martins and BMWs for James Bond is set to make an all-electric zero-emissions ‘Popemobile’ following an audience with the Pope in the Vatican this week.
Car designer and entrepreneur Henrik Fisker is to adapt a version of his new battery-powered Fisker Ocean SUV with a pop-up glass cube-shaped cupola from which Pope Francis can greet onlookers.
Anglophile American automotive boss Fisker, who was born in Denmark and has a British wife, has set up a new firm in California to launch the Ocean – an electric model that can hit 60mph in 2.9 seconds, has a range of up to 350 miles and an interior made of 100 per cent vegan materials.
The company is billing it as the ‘first all-electric Popemobile’. However, other manufacturers have pipped Fisker to the post with their own electrified versions of a vehicle for his Holiness.
The Pope’s new EV: Henrik Fisker shows the Pope his plans for an all-electric Fisker Ocean Popemobile during an audience with his Holiness in the Vatican this week
While at BMW Fisker designed the retro-styled Z8 used by 007 in the 1999 James Bond movie The World is Not Enough, sharing 14 minutes of screen time with actor Pierce Brosnam before being cut in half.
At Aston Martin he was director of design when the DB9 and V8 Vantage models were launched, and he also ran Ford’s Ingeni design centre in London.
Sharing details of the proposed new Popemobile, his company Fisker Inc announced today: ‘Henrik Fisker had an audience with Pope Francis, the Holy See where he presented his vision for the first all-electric papal transport to the Pope on historic visit to Vatican City. Delivery of the custom-made Ocean-based SUV is planned for next year.’
It noted: ‘Fisker is set to develop the first all-electric vehicle for the Holy See, Pope Francis, after a historic visit to Vatican City.’
Fisker was accompanied by his wife and company co-founder Geeta Gupta-Fisker.
Speaking from Rome, he said: ‘I got inspired reading that Pope Francis is very considerate about the environment and the impact of climate change for future generations.
‘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.’
Car designer and entrepreneur Henrik Fisker is to adapt a version of his new battery-powered Fisker Ocean SUV with a pop-up glass cube-shaped cupola from which Pope Francis can greet onlookers
The company said of the planned Popemobile: ‘An all-electric papal transport will provide the first exhaust-free and emissions-free experience for those gathered for blessings by His Holiness.
‘The spacious interior of the Fisker Ocean SUV supports a large, modern, all-glass cupola, offering accessibility and visibility for Pope Francis to greet the faithful.
‘This specially created Fisker Ocean will be the first all-electric papal transport.
‘The company plans to deliver this singular version of the Fisker Ocean to the Pope next year.’
Production of the standard five-seater Fisker Ocean for mainstream customers will start on November 17th with the first cars expected in showrooms early next year it said, announcing 16,000 reservations already in hand.
It will initially be built exclusively in Europe by specialist firm Magna.
Earlier this month Fisker announced an agreement to deliver up to 700 right-hand drive Ocean SUVs to UK-based electric car subscription service Onto.
Anglophile American automotive boss Fisker, who was born in Denmark and has a British wife, has set up a new firm in California to launch the Ocean – an electric model that can hit 60mph in 2.9 seconds, has a range of up to 350 miles and an interior made of 100 per cent vegan materials
A Fisker ‘experience centre’ or boutique showroom is to open in London next year. In December, Californian-based Fisker announced a partnership with the UK’s Cox Automotive and Rivus for a range of after-sales services, including mobile fleet servicing.
The car is being engineered for both left-and right hand markets and is set for its official launch at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
Prices for the new Ocean start at $37,499 in the US (around £27,000) before local taxes or any electric car subsidies and €32,000 in Germany.
Right hand drive versions for the UK are planned in the first half of 2023 with prices to be confirmed later.
The Ocean will also be available in premium versions including Ultra High Range with a range of around 350 miles, all-wheel drive, and other features.
Prices for the new Ocean start at $37,499 in the US (around £27,000) before local taxes or any electric car subsidies and €32,000 in Germany
Not the Pope’s first EV…
Popes have had access to a range of Popemobiles over the years from manufacturers as diverse as Dacia and Mercedes-Benz, including some early electrified vehicles.
Last year Toyota provided a hydrogen-powered Mirai Popemobile which uses the gas in a fuel-cell to generate electricity which drives the wheels.
His Holiness’ hydrogen car: This is the Toyota Mirai Popemobile gifted to Pope Francis last year
A 2017 Popemobile based on the Opel-Ampera-e (a Chevrolet Bolt in the USA) used a 1.4-litre petrol engine as an on-board electricity generator or ‘range-extender’ to power the electric motors.
In 2012 Renault provided an electric Popemoble based on its Kangoo Maxi ZE, with little-known manufacturer NWG offering its own version in the same year.
Fisker has said that the range topping Ocean model will use an 80kWh battery pack and will be able to charge up to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes from a DC charger.
All-wheel drive versions will feature an electric motor on each axle, giving a combined output of around 300 horse-power.
A less expensive entry-level, rear-wheel drive variant is also planned and will probably feature a smaller battery pack and reduced range.
A high performance version with acceleration from rest to 60mph in under three seconds has also been speculated.
The new Fisker Ocean also includes other environmentally-friendly features including car seats made from recycled polyester fibres, and interior carpets made from recycled nylon from abandoned fishing nets.
The Ocean’s roof features a solar panel that drip-feeds and tops-up the SUV’s battery pack. The firm says it will use discarded rubber waste from tyre production to manufacture several components. This means that rubber offcuts which would otherwise go to landfill will be saved and ultimately help lower the vehicle’s overall carbon footprint.
The new Fisker Ocean’s bonnet has been fixed shut to help save cash, weight and space.
The extra space created under the nose now houses the vehicle’s hi-tech electronics and air-conditioning unit, liberating space inside the cabin.
The new Fisker Ocean also includes other environmentally-friendly features including car seats made from recycled polyester fibres, and interior carpets made from recycled nylon from abandoned fishing nets
The cabin has been designed to seat five adults although the platform has enough space over the rear axle for a third row of seats that could potentially lead to a seven-seater version.
Inside, the Ocean has a 9.8-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, and a 16-inch infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
An augmented reality navigation system is also planned.
Entry-level cars are expected to come with 20-inch alloy wheels, with larger 22-inch version on top-of the range models.
Practical extras will include a tow-bar, roof-rails, and a retractable rear screen allowing large items to be carried in the SUV’s boot without needing to leave the tailgate open.
Some versions of new Fisker Ocean will also come with a setting called ‘California Mode’ which lowers the side and rear windows to provide an ‘open-air’ atmosphere in the cabin.
In a previous venture, Henrik Fisker founded in 2007 a firm called Fisker Automotive which created the ground-breaking Karma premium electric plug-in hybrid. But the firm went bust in late 2014 and was bought the following by a new Chinese owner and now trades as Karma Automotive.
It has no links with the newly created Fisker Inc company behind the Ocean.
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