Citroen's super-cheap Ami electric city pod needs no license
A truly unique little car is coming to the streets of Europe mid-year in the Citroen Ami. Cheap as chips and legal for license-free driving, this super-quirky little electric pod goes 70 km (43 miles) on a charge at up to 45 km/h (28 mph).
First shown as a concept last year, the Ami is an absolutely miniscule two-seater, at just 3.41 m (11.2 ft) long and narrow enough that you can probably touch your shoulder to one window and your outstretched hand to the other from the driver's seat. Weighing just 485 kg (1,069 lb), offering just 6 kW (8 hp) and with a super-tight 7.2 m (23.6 ft) turning circle, it's not even registered as a car.
Indeed, it's classified as a "light quadricycle," meaning that 14 year olds can drive it in France with a basic road safety certificate, and 16 year olds and upward across the EU and UK can drive it without a license at all. With its restricted speed and city-friendly range, it could prove a terrific urban getabout that will squeeze into virtually any parking spot.
It's designed as a bit of a blank slate, with lots of symmetrical panels for quick, cheap manufacture. One fun result of this is the doors; the left and right doors are literally the same part, so they open normally on the passenger side but backwards on the driver's side. The front and rear bumpers are the same. The under-body panels are the same front and rear. It reminds us a little of those exchangeable-part VW beetles of the 1960s.
It's cheap, too, particularly for an EV. Batteries are routinely the biggest cost driver for EVs, and the one in the Ami only holds 5.5 kWh. Hence, you can buy it outright for just €6,000 (US$6,590), or put down less than half of that and rent it for €19.99 (US$22) a month. Citroen is also planning to release a fleet of these things on a car sharing model at a price of €0.26 (US$0.29) a minute for subscribers.
The interior is cleverly done to keep things cheap while still being useful. There's no infotainment screen, just a little phone holder so you can run navigation and audio from your smartphone. You can option it up with storage trays, cargo nets, handbag hooks and all manner of other bits and pieces. On the outside of the car, you can go for wheel covers, sticker kits, or even little Airbump plastic anti-ding panels like we first saw on the C4 Cactus.
The whole thing is relentlessly practical and humble, with a splash of Citroen's trademark out-there styling. It looks for all the world like one of these future mobility pods we keep hearing will be driving us all over town in 10 years' time. It'll be interesting to see if it catches on in the slower, narrower streets of Europe – at that price, there's barely any barrier to entry.
See a video below.