Pope Francis drew attention last week for his use of an Italian-made Fiat 500L — a petite compact sedan flying a small Vatican flag, flanked by hulking Secret Service SUVs — during his trip to the United States.
The pope used three different black Fiats, one for each city, Vatican spokesperson Manuel Dorantes said. Each city had backup Fiats in case anything went wrong, so a total of six vehicles were ready to go.
The pope does not personally choose the model, color or brand.
“It’s part of the reason I wish to emphasize that the Holy Father does not personally endorse any specific brand he uses nor should his use of the products imply an endorsement,” Dorantes said in a statement.
Dorantes said the choice of vehicle in each country that the pope visits is made by the Vatican police, which adheres to the pope’s one request: modesty and simplicity.
“It is no secret that Pope Francis has an affinity for the simple and for the most affordable vehicles that are affordable to the common family,” Dorantes said.
Since he was elected in 2013, the pope has become known for his simplicity, opting to move into the 10-room papal residence and shun limousines. He reportedly uses a blue Ford Focus to get around the Vatican.
Host dioceses from each city will keep the vehicles, which have a starting list price of $19,935.
The pope also used two open-air popemobiles, Jeep Wranglers that were modified with a glass roof and open sides. Fiat Chrysler, which reported $32.7 billion in second-quarter revenue, manufacturers both vehicles.
Buyers have been showing interest since the pope’s tour began, Mark Cowdin, general sales manager at Safford Fiat of Tyson’s Corner, told The Washington Post, and he hopes the dealership will at least double its typical monthly sales of the car.