Citroen will start selling a €6,000 two-seat electric transportation module in France on March 30. Sales later this year will expand to Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, and then Germany, according to Tech Crunch. The new car is called the Ami, which is French for friend. Citroen fans will recall the company has sold several vehicles under that name in the past, all of them bare bones, no frills transportation devices for people on a strict budget. The new Ami EV is no different.
Here are some of the details. The car is a 2-seater with a 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the floor that can recharge in 3 hours using a normal (in Europe) 220 volt wall outlet. It has a range of 70 kilometers (42 miles) and a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph). Being short and narrow, it is easy to navigate through city traffic and easy to park when you get where you are going. Think of it as a weatherproof motor scooter with 4 wheels and no emissions.
With such limited performance, no driver’s license is required. People as young as 14 can drive one in France and as young as 16 in other European countries. It has a panoramic sunroof and the interior has a heater. The side windows pop out and up just like they did back in the 50s with the iconic Citroen 2 CV.
Pricing is intended to make the Ami EV competitive with public transportation. The car costs a pint-sized €6,000 including VAT or it can be purchased with just €2,644 down and a minuscule monthly payment of €19.99 for 4 years (both include VAT). The cars (if you can call them that) can also be rented through car sharing services for €0.26 per minute.
“Individual, clean, urban — and bold” is how CEO Vincent Cobée described the Ami when it was unveiled in Paris recently, according to Electrive. He suggested the Ami was inspired by the recent yellow vest protests in France and the Fridays For Future movement, describing it as the answer to social issues. “The Ami should be a real breakthrough in access to urban mobility,” Cobée said. “A solution that is as close as possible to new user habits. This outstanding idea was only a concept a year ago. We’re very proud that we’re turning it into reality today.”
Nothing about the Ami is ordinary. It can be ordered online and delivered to the customer’s home upon request, in which case a factory representative will bring the car to the new owner and spend 30 minutes or so going over how it operates and answering questions.
Citroen has also forged an alliance with Fnac, a French book and electronics retailer, and Darty, an electrical appliances retailer, to offer the Ami in their stores. The car will be showcased inside a 9-square-meter pop-up sales area in both stores. Test drives will be available nearby.
The car’s low price is made possible by eliminating frills. There are no roll-down windows, the front and rear fascias are interchangeable, and the company uses the same door on both sides. On 0ne side it opens forward and on the other side it opens toward the rear of the car.
Don’t look for the Citroen Ami in America. It is too small and too low powered to appeal to US shoppers. But it could be a huge hit with European teenagers looking for an upgrade from a bicycle or motor scooter. The epitome of the “form follows function” principle, the Ami could be as disruptive as the Tesla Model S, except at the lowest end of the market instead of the highest.
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