Nissan Leaf at the Vatican

The Vatican makes that ‘big Leaf’ to becoming all-electric

In what can be seen as another major step towards its full adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), The Vatican recently received a donation of a 100%-electric Nissan Leaf.   

The zero-emissions Leaf, the world’s first mass-market EV, was received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

Nissan Leaf at the Vatican
Marco Toro, Managing Director for Nissan in Italy, hands over the keys to the Leaf to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

The donation follows the observation of World Environment Day (June 5), and the launch of the Vatican’s Laudato si’ Action Platform to make Catholic institutions environmentally sustainable within seven years.

Managing Director for Nissan in Italy, Marco Toro, who handed over the keys to the white Leaf during a special ceremony at the Vatican, said: “I am honored, on behalf of Nissan, to support the Holy See on the path towards the decarbonization of its operations, a goal which Nissan shares.

“We are working towards 75% of our sales in Europe being electrified by 2023, with a fully electrified range in the 2030s. This builds on the heritage of the Nissan Leaf as the world’s first mass-market EV, with 530,000 cars on the road having saved more than 2.8 million tons of CO2 worldwide,” he explained.

Nissan is the latest automaker to take a keen interest in electrifying the city-state’s transport. In 2019, a modified Toyota Mirai was built for Pope Francis’s trip to Japan. This popemobile uses a fuel-cell system that generates electricity from a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, producing no tailpipe emissions other than water vapor.

In a November 2020 report by, the Vatican announced it was gradually trying to replace all its service vehicles with an all-electric fleet.

The report quoted Roberto Mignucci, director of workshops and equipment for the office governing Vatican City State as saying, “Soon we will start collaborating with automobile manufacturers who are able to provide EVs for evaluation.”

In the report, Mignucci explained that an electric fleet would be ideal for the Vatican, since the average annual mileage for each of its service and support vehicles is less than 4,000 miles given the small size of the 109-acre city state and the close proximity of its extraterritorial properties, such as the papal villa and farm at Castel Gandolfo, 13 miles south of Rome.

The report also disclosed that the Vatican plans to increase the number of charging stations it already has installed for EVs to include other extraterritorial properties surrounding the basilicas of St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Paul Outside the Walls. (Full story here:

Available with two battery sizes and with technology including Nissan’s e-Pedal, for single-pedal driving, the Leaf is manufactured for European markets in Sunderland, United Kingdom. Nissan recently announced plans to triple the plant’s onsite renewable energy generation to 20% of the factory needs—enough to manufacture every Leaf sold in Europe.

Ben Greenwood, UK Consul General in Milan and Director of the Department for International Trade in Italy, said: “As part of our Clean Growth campaign and in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow and the Milan Pre-COP this year, DIT Italy is proud to be supporting Nissan Europe in its journey towards an entirely sustainable mobility model that will see all its vehicles electrified by early 2030s.

“Today’s event is testament to our desire to collaborate with the Holy See to help them reach their sustainability goals and their commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This is part of Pope Francis’ wider effort to protect the environment, as outlined in 2015 in his Laudato si’ Encyclical on Care for our Common Home and announced at the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020.”

As part of its global journey to net zero, Nissan will offer an electrified version available on all of its vehicles in Europe by the end of 2023. This builds on more than a decade of experience from the Leaf’s launching. Upcoming innovations include the launch of vehicles including the all-new Qashqai and X-Trail with Nissan’s unique e-Power technology, the new all-electric Nissan Ariya and a new electric van (Nissan Motor Corp Official Philippines Newsroom).