Car Culture

Lexus builds a hybrid for a prince

At the wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, the royal couple will be chauffeured in a custom-built Lexus LS 600h L Laundelet.

The Lexus 600h L has been fitted with a polycarbonate Laundelet roof.
Lexus LS 600h L Laundelet
The Lexus 600h L has been fitted with a polycarbonate Laundelet roof. Lexus

Environmental responsibility is all the rage with European royalty these days. Prince William and Kate Middleton drove away from their nuptials in a bio-ethanol-powered Aston Martin DB6, and now Monaco announced that Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock will make a post-ceremony procession in a Lexus hybrid.

Prince Albert II of Monaco
Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock will be married July 2, 2011. Prince's palace of Monaco

The Monaco royal car won't be a humble HS 250h or even an RX 450h SUV, but a flagship LS 600h L, specially converted with a Laundelet roof. To install the new roof, Belgian coachbuilders Carat Duchatelet had to remove the existing roof and strengthen the car's body with Kevlar and honeycomb structures to restore lost rigidity.

The roof itself is a polycarbonate transparent shell covering the rear seat. It was designed by a French company that also builds canopies for helicopters and other aircraft. The 8-millimeter thick shell weighs 57 pounds and can be removed for an open-air rear seat.

The Lexus 600h L retained its original drivetrain, a 5-liter V-8 enhanced with an electric propulsion unit. The wedding procession, which occurs July 2, goes from the palace down to Monaco's harbor, and then along Boulevard Albert I to Sainte-Devote Church. The procession's slow speeds will allow the LS 600h L to operate under electric power for most of the route, according to Lexus.

After the wedding, the car will go on display at Monaco's Oceanographic Museum.