Washington — One of the Detroit-built presidential limousines suffered mechanical trouble in Israel and had to be taken out of service before President Barack Obama arrived in Israel on Wednesday.
When on official business, Obama typically travels in the Cadillac presidential limousine, which was built at General Motors Co.'s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant off the company's medium-duty truck platform.
"One of our protective vehicles experienced mechanical problems in Israel earlier today," said Edwin Donovan, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, according to a White House pool report. "This is why we bring multiple vehicles and a mechanic on all trips. Situations like this are planned for extensively by our advance teams so that the president's itinerary is unaffected by these types of issues."
He said he didn't know the cause of the breakdown.
Pictures of Obama's limousine being towed away on a flatbed truck were posted on Israeli media websites.
Some media reports said the vehicle nicknamed "The Beast" had been filled with diesel fuel rather than gasoline.
If that's the case, the vehicle will likely need to have the fuel drained, fuel lines flushed and possibly some filters, spark plugs and other parts replaced. But unlike filling a diesel car with regular gasoline, there is likely no permanent damage.
The president was driven in a different vehicle.
On weekends in Washington, Obama typically rides around in an armored Chevrolet Suburban.
The newest presidential limousine made its debut just before Obama's 2009 inauguration. It has shiny 16-spoke wheels and a distinctive Cadillac grill complete with the GM brand's crest.
The presidential fleet includes the 2006 Cadillac DTS presidential limousine that President George W. Bush used after his second inauguration in January 2005.
The new limousine has larger windows and better visibility for the president, Caldwell said.
But it is roughly the same size and "footprint" of the previous model with "mobile office features," GM said.
Another company provides heavy armor that is reportedly five inches thick. The limousine also has run-flat tires, bulletproof glass and a completely sealed interior to ward off a chemical attack, among many other high-tech security features.
It also has significant electronic communications equipment. It's compared by some to a tank.
Other facts are a secret like the vehicle's weight — though based on earlier models it is in excess of 10,000 pounds.