The next popemobile could be green.

The Vatican says Germany’s Mercedes-Benz auto company is making a study of a hybrid, energy-saving popemobile that would replace the current Mercedes vehicle used when the pope travels abroad.

“It won’t be ready for the September trip to Germany, but maybe at the end of the year or early next year,” said Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi. Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make his first official visit to Germany Sept. 22-25.

Christian Anosowitsch, a spokesman for Mercedes in Stuttgart, Germany, said he could not confirm that the company was developing such a car, saying it is not policy to comment on possible future plans. “There is at the moment no order to build such a vehicle,” he said.

Benedict has made conserving resources an important concern of his papacy. Solar panels have been installed on the roof of the papal audience hall at the Vatican.

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