The Official and Ceremonial Vehicles of World Leaders
Transporting world leaders from A-to-B is a complex endeavor, usually accomplished using motorcades, escorts, roadblocks, and all sorts of bullet and bombproof vehicles. Incorporating that level of technological sophistication into a stylish vehicle worthy of transporting and head of state is no easy task.
Today’s graphic looks at official state vehicles, from the unparalleled Cadillac One that transports President Trump, to the understated ’87 Volkswagen Beetle driven by former Uruguayan president, Josè Mujica.
The Official Official Vehicle
According to data from TitleMax, the overwhelming favorite car brand for world leaders is Mercedes–Benz, particularly the S-Class.
Many countries use luxury brands such as Mercedes–Benz and BMW to transport their heads of state, though it’s also a popular move select domestic brands for such an important and highly symbolic task. The United States, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Sweden are all examples of countries that chose vehicles made by domestic brands.
The United States spares little expense in keeping the president safe, and President Trump’s Cadillac One, nicknamed “The Beast“, is no exception.
As one would expect, the vehicle is heavily armored, with doors that weigh as much as the ones on a Boeing 757. There are also some unique features packed into the vehicle, such as tear gas launchers, and pints of blood that match the president’s blood type.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, rides in a BMW 7 Series that boasts some impressive safety features, including on-board oxygen supply and toxic gas sensors.
Old School Cool
While many nations fleets consist of modern luxury vehicles, some heads of state opt for vintage rides.
The former King of Tonga, George Tupou V, preferred traveling in vintage cars, such as a 1949 Humber Pullman and his customized London taxi.
An English taxi is extremely easy to get in and out of wearing a sword, a spiked helmet or spurs.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom IV is, in some ways, the quintessential vehicle for pomp and circumstance. Only 18 of the vehicles were made between 1950 and 1956, and all were purchased by royal families and heads of state. Three of these historical vehicles are still in use by the Spanish head of state for ceremonial occasions.
During special events, Chilean leaders cruise in a 1966 Ford Galaxie. The car, which has been in use for decades, was a gift from the Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, occasionally ditches his Mercedes–Benz S-Class to ride his bike to meetings. That may seem unusual in some parts of the world, but not in the Netherlands where nearly a quarter of the country’s population rides a bicycle on any given day.
Visualizing the BRICS Expansion in 4 Charts
We provide a data-driven overview of how the recent BRICS expansion will grow the group’s influence and reach.
Visualizing the BRICS Expansion in 4 Charts
BRICS is an association of five major countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Distinguished by their emerging economies, the group has sought to improve diplomatic coordination, reform global financial institutions, and ultimately serve as a counterbalance to Western hegemony.
On Aug. 24, 2023, BRICS announced that it would formally accept six new members at the start of 2024: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In this graphic, we provide a data-driven overview of how the BRICS expansion will grow the group’s influence and reach.
Share of Global GDP
Because most of the new BRICS members are considered to be developing economies, their addition to the group will not have a major impact on its overall share of GDP.
The following table includes GDP projections for 2023, courtesy of the IMF.
|Country||GDP (USD billions)||Share of Global (%)|
|Yes||🇿🇦 South Africa||$399||0.4%|
|No||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||$1,062||1.0%|
|-||Rest of World||$74,362||70.7%|
The original six BRICS members are expected to have a combined GDP of $27.6 trillion in 2023, representing 26.3% of the global total. With the new members included, expected GDP climbs slightly to $30.8 trillion, enough for a 29.3% global share.
Share of Global Population
BRICS has always represented a major chunk of global population thanks to China and India, which are the only countries with over 1 billion people.
The two biggest populations being added to BRICS are Ethiopia (126.5 million) and Egypt (112.7 million). See the following table for population data from World Population Review, which is dated as of 2023.
|Country||Population||Share of Global (%)|
|Yes||🇿🇦 South Africa||60,414,495||0.8%|
|No||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||36,947,025||0.5%|
|-||BRICS Total||3.7 billion||46.0%|
|-||Rest of World||4.3 billion||54.0%|
It’s possible that BRICS could eventually surpass 50% of global population, as many more countries have expressed their desire to join.
Share of Oil Production
Although the world is trying to move away from fossil fuels, the global oil market is still incredibly large—and BRICS is set to play a much bigger role in it. This is mostly due to the admission of Saudi Arabia, which alone accounts for 12.9% of global oil production.
Based on 2022 figures from the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy, BRICS’ share of oil production will grow from 20.4% to 43.1%.
|Share of Global (%)|
|Yes||🇿🇦 South Africa||0||0.0%|
|No||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||12,136||12.9%|
|-||Rest of World||53,394||56.9%|
It’s worth noting that China has been pushing for oil trade to be denominated in yuan, and that Saudi Arabia’s acceptance into BRICS could bolster this ambition, potentially shifting the dynamics of global oil trade.
Share of Global Exports
The last metric included in our graphic is global exports, which is based on 2022 data from the World Trade Organization. We can see that the BRICS expansion will grow the group’s share of global exports (merchandise trade) to 25.1%, up from 20.2%.
|Country||Exports (USD billions)||Share of Global (%)|
|Yes||🇿🇦 South Africa||123||0.5%|
|No||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||410||1.6%|
|-||Rest of World||18,646||74.9%|
Unsurprisingly, China is the world’s largest exporter. Major exporters that are not a part of BRICS include the U.S. (8.3%), Germany (6.6%), the Netherlands (3.9%), and Japan (3.0%).
Who Else Wants to Join?
According to Reuters, there are over 40 countries that have expressed interest in joining BRICS. A smaller group of 16 countries have actually applied for membership, though, and this list includes Algeria, Cuba, Indonesia, Palestine, and Vietnam.
As the group grows in size, differing opinions and priorities among its members could create tensions in the future. For example, India and China have had numerous border disputes in recent years, while Brazil’s newly elected President has sought to “kickstart a new era of relations” with the U.S.
One thing that is certain, however, is that a new acronym for the group will be needed very soon.
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