ROME – The Vatican remains the number one customer for Popemobiles, according to market-leader Mercedes.
Vatican demand outstripped all other markets for the 32nd year running, with sales reaching one unit in 2010. The Holy See purchased one modified Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman-Landaulet in February.
“It’s been another tough year in the papal market, so we‘re delighted with these results,” Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes, said. “With this momentum behind us, we won’t be closing our Vatican showroom any time soon.”
The notoriously tough episcopal market has left many manufacturers struggling for a toehold. Ford, whose last Popemobile sale was a modified Lehmann-Peterson in 1964, said it predicted another testing twelve months.
“We’re still aggressively pursuing pontifical sales,” said John Flemming, CEO of Ford Europe. “But barring an assassination or the emergence of brand new popes elsewhere in the world, it looks like 2011 could be another period of slow growth.”
Mercedes’ latest figures show a dramatic improvement on last year, when Popemobile purchases hovered around zero.