COP26: The Beast presidential car - How heavy is Joe Biden’s limo and what are its CO2 emissions and economy?

As the US President is criticised for his choice of transport to the climate summit we look at the specifications of his bomb-proof limo

US President Joe Biden has come under fire for the massive motorcade that has accompanied him to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The President was pictured travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow in a convoy of 20 vehicles, including huge SUVs and his own presidential limousine, known as The Beast due to its size.

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Given that the topic of the summit is stopping climate change, the US leader’s choice of transport and entourage has been questioned, but just how bad for the planet is The Beast?

What kind of car is The Beast?

The current Cadillac limo is the second version to be given the nickname "The Beast"

The Beast is a special project built specifically for the President and, as such, isn’t based on any standard roadgoing model. It’s built by American car maker Cadillac and shares its grille style  with the brand’s Escala concept car, while the headlights are similar to those on the previous generation Escalade SUV, but it doesn’t actually share parts with any other model.

How big is The Beast?

Underneath, The Beast is based on a heavy-duty truck chassis and believed to be powered by a truck-derived diesel engine from General Motors. From bumper to bumper it measures a massive 18 feet long and weighs somewhere between 6.5 and eight tonnes.

All that weight means the big machine isn’t exactly sprightly, taking a reported 15 seconds to reach 60 miles an hour. And the length can cause problems too, as Barack Obama found when his previous version of The Beast got beached on the steep entrance road to the US embassy in Dublin.

What is The Beast’s economy and CO2 emissions?

The White House hasn’t offered any economy or emissions information on the President’s limo but it’s safe to say that at the same weight as a truck and with what is believed to be a 5.0-litre engine, it’s not going to be particularly environmentally friendly.

Estimates put the diesel-powered car’s economy at around 8mpg and one report claims it could emit as much as 2.5kg of CO2 per kilometre. An average Ford Focus, in comparison, emits less than 150g/km.

Beneath the shining bodywork, The Beast is heavily armoured

How much does The Beast cost?

A car of this size and specification doesn’t come cheap, with the current model believed to have cost in the region of £1.1 million when it was built for former President Donald Trump in 2018. That's still a fair whack cheaper than this bespoke Rolls-Royce, although the Rolls does feature a built-in cocktail bar.

Is The Beast armoured?

Oh yes, and being armour-plated and bulletproof is just the start of The Beast’s security measures.

As befits a car designed to protect one of the world’s most powerful men, The Beast’s bodywork is made from military grade materials designed to withstand gunfire and explosions, and the fuel tank is similarly blast-proof. The doors are eight-inch thick armour plating and the sealed windows made of five-inch thick bulletproof glass. Even the tyres are designed to withstand attack thanks to Kevlar reinforcement, and they feature run-flat technology.

In addition, the car packs smoke screen and tear gas dispensers into the boot to repel attacks and, if that isn’t Bond villain enough, the door handles are rigged to give a 120-volt electric shock at the flick of a switch.

The passenger cabin is sealed against chemical attack and has its own oxygen supply to keep passengers safe, plus satellite phone links to the Pentagon and Vice President’s office. Emergency supplies of the President’s blood type are kept on board, presumably separately from the shotguns and tear gas cannons the car also carries.

Driving such a massive vehicle with such a precious cargo isn’t trusted to just anyone and The Beast is piloted by specially trained Secret Service staff.