What is the Citroën Ami
It’s driven by a 48 V, 8 horsepower electric motor that can obtain a top speed of 45 km/h. According to Citroën, the Ami has a range of 70 km on one charge. The battery of the car is a 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery with a charge time of 3 hours from a 220 V outlet.
Citroën designed the car with symmetry and economy in mind. It’s left and right sides are symmetrical including the doors and the bumpers (the front bumper is identical to the rear one).
This is an ingenious design idea on Citroën’s part as it keeps the number of unique components to a minimum allowing for lower manufacturing costs, and thus a cheaper end product. Another benefit of using universal versus proprietary manufactured parts is a finer user experience when it comes to replacements and repairs.
The Ami itself costs 6000 euros, but it can be rented for €19.99 per month after a one-time payment of €2644. Citroën’s pricing plan also includes a renting option from their partnering automobile sharing services for 0.26 euros a minute or 9.90 euros a month.
Quadricycles: A New Urban Transportation Method
The Citroën Ami falls into the category of “light quadricycle”, which is a European Union classification of four-wheel miniature cars under 450kg (not including the battery for EVs). Because these types of vehicles belong to the same legal framework as mopeds in the EU, they can be driven by minors above the age of 14 (in France, with 16 being the average throughout Europe), although if quadricycles gain mainstream popularity they may carry legal ramifications with potential street safety issues and future law changes.
With this in mind quadricycles might still offer an alternative affordable urban transport method for the near future. European cities with narrow roads and American cities with limited parking spaces have a lot to gain from this type of microcar.
A Design That Fits the Terrain
Unlike regular cars, the size and limited speed of quadricycles allow for them to be driven on narrower streets (for example smaller roads in older European towns) but it also allows for them to be parked in smaller spaces. Moreover, considering the fact that cars can take up unnecessary space as oftentimes not all seats are being used, quadricycles have the additional benefit of minimizing traffic and decluttering roads.
Quadricycles and microcars in general, aren’t a new idea. They’ve existed in one form or another throughout the previous century, yet they never found their place in real-world commuting. The microcars from the 50’s and 60’s were supposed to be an affordable personal method of transportation promoted by automobile manufacturers and airplane manufacturers entering the automotive market.
The Citroen Ami being charged from a wall socket. Image credited to Citroën.
The Downsides of Microcars
However, these cars fell short when it came to their size constraints and price. Popular examples like the BMW Isetta, the Peel P50 and the Heinkel Kabine were uncomfortable to get inside, oftentimes having just one door and one seat. Soon similarly priced conventional vehicles rendered the 50’s and 60’s microcar obsolete as cars like the VW Beetle and the Fiat 500 had the upper hand when it came to utility and comfort.
Modern utility-based affordable cars don’t really exist, especially not in EV variants. In recent years, multiple automobile manufacturers, from well-funded startups such as SitiCar with the Me to established brands like Citroën with the Ami, Toyota with the Insect Car and Renault with the Twizzy have started developing these smaller electric cars with the goal of creating a new urban transportation method.
Although most of these cars lack affordability, the Citroën Ami tries to combat that. Due to its 6000 euro price tag, it sets a precedent that car manufacturers can offer clean energy, utilitarian cars at an affordable price, opening them up for a wider audience of younger and lower-income people.
The Future of Urban Mobility
The need for an environmentally friendly automobile has become an important part of today’s society with renewable energy laws being set into place to significantly reduce the number of petrol and gas cars around the world.
As newer companies like Tesla and BYD are taking the lead in the EV field, older ones like Citroën, Toyota and Renault follow, modifying and expanding the market. Even though EVs aren’t a recent technology, they’re starting to become more affordable due to research and advancements into battery and motor technology, government funding and higher demand.
With the Ami, Citroën opens the door for the next classes of affordable two and four-passenger city cars in the emerging market of today's modern infrastructure. But in the end, whether or not the Ami sparks a new norm of small urban EVs will ultimately come down to the end-users themselves.