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Citroën Ami previews future mobility

What we drive will change hugely in the next few years and we can expect to see all kinds of electric vehicles designed for specific purposes – like the Citroën Ami. Craig Thomas reports

If Citroën is right, cars won’t be the only electric-powered vehicles that we’ll be driving in towns and cities in the coming decades. 

With the unveiling of Ami, the French manufacturer unveiled the latest step in its electrification strategy; an all-electric quadricycle.

The quadricycle is a four-wheeled vehicle that falls into the same category as a moped, by virtue of its low weight, engine power and speed and has long been successful in France.

The Ami – which will go on sale in France later this year, is a two-seat vehicle with a 5.5kWh battery that gives it a range of 43 miles and a top speed of 28mph, making it suitable for short, urban usage. It can be charged in just three hours, using a conventional 220V domestic supply. It is just 2.41m long and has a tiny turning circle of 7.20m, for easier urban manoeuvrability, yet still has space for a driver and passenger to sit side by side.

And because it’s classified as a quadricycle, it can be driven without the need for a full driving licence: in France it can be driven by teenagers as young as 14, while in the UK 16-year-olds will be allowed on the public highways in one (as long as they have a moped licence). It is intended not as a rival to cars – even small city car models – but as a more practical alternative to the likes of the electric scooter services that are currently proliferating in cities.

“It’s not a car…It’s a mobility object,” says Arnaud Belloni, the brand’s marketing and communications director. “Ami will be competing with bicycles, electric scooters and electric mopeds…We are creating a new segment.”

Ami will be competing with bicycles, electric scooters and electric mopeds…We are creating a new segment.

Arnaud Belloni, Citroën marketing and communications director

Citroën thinks it has an advantage over other forms of urban transport because, while the Ami doesn’t match car levels of safety, it is still a lot safer than e-scooters.

The Ami is a basic vehicle, yet its design does reflect a youthful appeal the Citroën brand wants to exude. Its compact nature and round headlights give it a toy-like look, but it is undoubtedly cute looking. The fact that the driver’s door is rear-hinged and the passenger door is hinged at the front, so the doors open outwards in different ways, is a neat little touch too. Undoubtedly, Ami has bags of character.

The interior is simply designed but effective too. It looks spartan. There is really only a steering wheel and an instrument panel, with a dock for a mobile phone. The materials are practical and hard wearing, but flashes of colour add an element of fun.

The Ami is only available in one blue-grey colour, but it can be customised with trim details in four other colours – grey, blue, khaki and orange – while there are also two customisation packs, My Ami Pop and My Ami Vibe, which include features such as large decals and a rear spoiler.

The purchase price is €6,000, or €19.99 a month on long-term rental, while costs via PSA Group’s Free2Move car sharing arm will be €0.26 per minute (alongside a €9.90 monthly subscription).

Citroën sees Ami as an urban mobility solution that offers customers an alternative for shorter journeys in urban environments. With so many cities around the world now putting restrictions in place to reduce urban pollution and CO2 emissions, by restricting certain types of vehicle, the timing for a EV like the Ami, certainly seems right.

We talked about innovation. We talked about financing schemes, about distribution schemes and we talked about things that we believe are deeply rooted in everybody’s needs: the need for individual, clean, urban mobility

 – Vincent Cobée Citroën CEO

When asked about how Citroën’s approach to the challenges that personal transportation will face in the coming years, Citroën’s CEO, Vincent Cobée said:

“The first thing is we are backed by PSA [the parent company that also owns Peugeot and Vauxhall], so from a technology point of view, we’re using PSA know-how. There will be five other models we’ll be electrifying during this year, all backed by these PSA technologies. But the way we combine electric capabilities and segments, the way we create offers in the segment, are Citroën-specific.

“The Ami will be a battery EV and we will probably be the only PSA brand to offer a battery EV in that segment. The product itself will be very Citroën-ish, in the way we define an answer to a particular segment need.

Cobée also said that company sees the move to electrification across a range of different vehicles, aimed at the different needs of individual consumers and society as a whole. “We believe electrification is not a specific vehicle. We believe electrification is a legitimate societal requirement and it brings an additional…series of benefits.”

Cobée added that when developing Ami, the company’s executives approached the vehicle from a completely different angle: “We talked about innovation. We talked about financing schemes, about distribution schemes and we talked about things that we believe are deeply rooted in everybody’s needs: the need for individual, clean, urban mobility. So we brought to bear all the capabilities of an industry or group to answer that particular societal need.”

Distribution channels will also change, in line with the range of different vehicles that are available to users, from vans, to cars, to quadricycle ‘mobility objects’. Ami is available to share, rather than own, through Free2Move, a service owned by Citroën’s PSA parent company. As Cobée said: “Sharing is an additional service. It’s not a replacement for the car.”

The Ami will also be sold and distributed in non-traditional ways, with a purchase process that is completely online and home delivery if required.

The Ami will initially launch in France, followed by Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and then Germany. There’s no date yet for a UK launch, but Citroën executives are confident that results from the first six markets will prove Ami to be a viable business case for other countries.

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