Could the electric Citroen Ami revolutionise city transport?
The Citroen Ami might look like a car in the mould of the Smart ForTwo, but it’s technically a quadricycle, meaning it can be driven without a driving license and, in France in particular, by anyone aged 14 upwards.
Released as a concept in July 2019, it went on sale in France in May and is selling very well, with all orders so far made online and more than 8/10 cars subject to some sort of customisation; Citroen is unashamedly selling this to a young demographic as a cheap and funky type of city car.
And it really is cheap. An Ami can be leased for just €19.99 (£17.50) per month with a €2600 (£2300) down payment, which is possible in part because of a €900 subsidy provided by the French government. It’s relatively cheap to buy outright too, starting at around £6000, and Citroen is even offering the model on a rent-per-minute basis through a scheme called Free2Move, for around 20p per 60 seconds of use.
It’s also very cheap to insure, with a yearly policy costing well under £300, and it’s cheap to run, with a battery range of around 40 miles from a 5.5kWh battery pack packaged under the floor of the 2.4m long car/quadricycle. The two-seat Ami will only hit 30mph but will charge in just three hours from a three-pin socket
It is every inch a city car. For reference, it’s 30cm shorter than a Smart ForTwo, although the Ami has a slightly larger turning circle, at 7.2m compared to the ForTwo’s 6.95m. Both trump the black cab’s famously tight ring though, at 8.5m, and to give you some context a Ford Focus has an 11-metre turning circle.
It’s not just a very small object, though. It’s been designed with some intriguing and very clever features designed to make it as accommodating as possible, while keeping costs down. The distinctive shape comes because the wheels really are pushed right out to the corners, which maximises cabin space, and every car gets a glass roof to make for a feeling of space. As well as very thin pillars separated by more glass.
The doors are hinged on opposite sides, which is a clever cost saving measure because it means all the doors are identical - no need to build a mirror image door. The windows flip up rather than having a complex winding mechanism, and there are storage spaces aplenty built into the dashboard. The lack of an actual boot is compensated for in some way by storage in front of the passenger seat, and there’s a large bag hook on the dashboard.
Still, customers are able to customise their cars relatively extensively, mainly with coloured panels for the interior and exterior, and Citroen recently unveiled 20 Paris-themed liveries for the car (below), all of which will be released on the aforementioned Free2Move scheme.
Sadly, though, there’ll be no Ami themed on a British city for the time being, with Citroen saying it won’t release the thing in the UK until it has measured success in France. But it bodes quite well, with Citroen’s early data suggesting that that the post-COVID landscape is making the Ami more appealing to those who want to avoid public transport. And with the UK desperate to drive down CO2 emissions in cities, low cost electric cars like this could be a great solution for many who live and work in busy towns.