Pope Francis is lighting a candle for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F), and he probably doesn’t even know it.
Head over to Vatican City and you might catch a glimpse of the Pope whizzing around in his simple yet efficient Ford Focus compact. His vehicle of choice is an example of a “humble” car that the head of the Catholic Church has encouraged his new priests and nuns to start driving — and although Pope Francis didn’t send the message for Ford’s sake, the U.S. automaker still has the big man to thank for the dose of publicity.
The attention Pope Francis has granted Ford with his choice of vehicle comes at just the right time and place for the car manufacturer, which is still facing flailing sales in Europe as the region continues to recover from the global recession. While Ford has been able to post impressive U.S. sales and continue to roll out big-ticket products, it is still working to stem losses in the hurting Europe auto industry, and that’s where the Pope comes in.