Automotive

Citroen's super-cheap Ami electric city pod needs no license

Citroen's super-cheap Ami elec...
Designed for symmetry to keep the parts list down, the Citroen Ami's right and left doors are the same part – so they open in opposite directions
Designed for symmetry to keep the parts list down, the Citroen Ami's right and left doors are the same part. Thus, they open in opposite directions
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Insanely cheap and ruthlessly practical
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Insanely cheap and ruthlessly practical
The Ami is an electric "light autocycle" that can be driven without a license in Europe
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The Ami is an electric "light autocycle" that can be driven without a license in Europe
Designed for symmetry to keep the parts list down, the Citroen Ami's right and left doors are the same part – so they open in opposite directions
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Designed for symmetry to keep the parts list down, the Citroen Ami's right and left doors are the same part. Thus, they open in opposite directions
The Ami is just 1.39 m (4 feet, 6 1/2 inches) across; you'll want to be familiar with your passengers
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The Ami is just 1.39 m (4 feet, 6 1/2 inches) across; you'll want to be familiar with your passengers
Optional sticker kits
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Optional sticker kits
The sticker kits are cute; we're sure we'll see many more of them
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The sticker kits are cute; we're sure we'll see many more of them
Dash trays keep things real bright 'n' simple
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Dash trays keep things real bright 'n' simple
Charging is via standard EU wall socket
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Charging is via standard EU wall socket
The Ami is super-compact and maneuverable
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The Ami is super-compact and maneuverable
Your phone is the nav/entertainment system
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Your phone is the nav/entertainment system
The super-cheap Ami is set to hit the streets of Europe in June
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The super-cheap Ami is set to hit the streets of Europe in June
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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.

The Ami is an electric "light autocycle" that can be driven without a license in Europe
The Ami is an electric "light autocycle" that can be driven without a license in Europe

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.

Your phone is the nav/entertainment system
Your phone is the nav/entertainment system

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.

Citroën AMI 100% ËLECTRIC

Source: Citroen

View gallery - 11 images
18 comments
Dave Weinstein
Hi Loz, do you know if they'll be bringing these to Australia? Or anywhere outside France?
Thud
This is the way to go. Make downtown Mini-vehicle only. Everybody wins. Get in an accident? Hey his car only weighs half a ton too. Alls good.
ppeter
Countryside, 70 km on one charge is not enough.
70 km on one charge is enough for the big city. Yet in the big city, most people don't have at home the means to charge an EV. And charging on charging stations is a major pia, which is the reason most plug-in hybrids actually drive on gasoline all the time.
So in the big city, an EV is a vehicle for people who have at home the means to charge it. Means rich people. 16 years old rich people...
This makes an EV with 70km range that can be driven by 16 years olds... a rich kids toy?
Dave Weinstein
I'm not so sure it's just a "rich person's toy". It really depends on how charging/docking/inventory control is deployed. If you fast forward to when these things are more than20% of the vehicles in a downtown area, then they will need dedicated parking spots to drop off/pick up from. And those spots could have inductive charging plates built into them so just parking in one charges the vehicle. I could definitely see a future where a smart app that's on your phone knows your usual travel routes (with your consent, of course), and offers discounts based upon where the network of cars needs to move cars to balance out their placement. Things like this will end up become "standardized" so that while different companies can make their own versions, the size, charging standard, etc. would be such that they fit into the city infrastructure interchangeably and seamlessly.

So far from being a toy for the rich, this seems like the most innovative automotive device I've seen since Tesla came on the scene. I'm proud of Citroen for making this, it shows that not ALL the legacy automobile companies are brain dead.

pete-y
Brilliant Park and Ride option for city centres with emission control zones - gives cities with this sort of option the chance to have really hard standards - electric only? - with low speed limits and not see the town grind to an economic halt.
Brian M
@ppeter
'which is the reason most plug-in hybrids actually drive on gasoline all the time.'
Not really true or least for me and the people I know who have a plug in - A stop at a gas station is a very rare occurrence, so rare I have to look up how to release the petrol filler! Most trips I do are below 30 miles, which means just recharge at home.

Although a range option of 80+ miles would make this a lot more attractive.
ChairmanLMAO
How is driving license free even a thing? Like the roads aren't cluttered enough with drivers that don't know the rules. @pete-y ya i like it too, it should be on the corporations and government to make the infrastructure and what better place than down town. @Brian M Ya I think the hybrid is the way to go but do you think the gas will expire pst its shelf life ;)? I don't see anyone getting much value from these than a share ride/park ride company.
pmshah
This most certainly not the "absolute mini" as you call it. Look back at "Fiat 600" or "Baby Hindusta 1000" of yesteryears.
foxpup
The idea of the unlicenced driving around half-ton machines on the road should scare anyone. It may not be much of a car, but it could cause a lot of trouble if drivers are stupid/insonsiderate/ignorant. ...this unit keeps th rain off of you, though...much better than a bike...but you can take a bike with you into the office and on the elevator (often)
Captain
*The range of this vehicle makes it totally impractical for all but those wanting to see how a totally electric vehicle fits into their lifestyle. Never buy an electric vehicle. Only rent or lease one. That way you can return it when you are disappointed.
With few expensive exceptions, electric vehicles are simply not there yet for the average person.