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Obama: White House Limo Won't Go Green

United States Secret Service

Updated 6:14 p.m. ET

President Obama has ordered a tripling of the number of hybrid vehicles in the federal fleet but the best known government car won't "go green." As he took questions at a North Carolina plant that makes battery components for hybrid cars, the president was asked about prospects for an electric-powered White House limousine.

Mr. Obama revealed that when he first received Secret Service protection, he asked if he could ride in a hybrid vehicle.

But his protectors rejected the idea. The president told his audience, "It's because the cars that I'm in are like tanks." Without going into detail, he said "there's a little bit of extra stuff on there."


He estimated the super-sized Cadillacs are two or three times heavier than an average car. The president also often rides in big SUVs. Mr. Obama told his questioner the presidential vehicles couldn't accelerate using a hybrid engine.

When agents open the limo doors, the armor plating and thick protective glass confirm the president's description that "they're a little reinforced." Other communications and defensive features that remain classified add to the weight. Secret Service agents refer to the big car as "the beast."

The current custom-built black Cadillacs went into service on January 20, 2009, the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated.

Peter Maer is a CBS News White House correspondent for CBS Radio News. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.