Citroën Ami: no-licence electric microcar costs €0.26 per minute
At that price it is competitive with e-scooters and even public transport
Citroën may just succeed where Renault has failed. Like the entry-level Twizy, the Ami is an electric urban two-seater quadricycle, but the comparison ends there. Citroën’s quirky cube on wheels is much more of a car than it is a scooter with plastic panelling around it, featuring real doors with 2CV-like upwards tilting side windows, real seats, heating, a small boot and even a panoramic roof.
It is not a Smart Fortwo, though. It is an ultra-light vehicle, meaning that you should not expect air conditioning, airbags, ESP or any other items that have we have come to expect as standard on a regular car. The Citroën Ami is not built to venture outside the city – at least not very far. Its top speed is limited to 45kph anyway – just like the Ligiers and Aixams you sometimes encounter on country roads.
The biggest assets of this electric ultra-light two-seater are the fact that you do not need a driver’s licence, which in France costs €1,800 on average, says Citroën – a prohibitive amount for many young people who have just started working or are still studying – and that you don’t have to buy it. You can rent it from 1 minute to 1 year or even longer, at very attractive rates.
From €19.99 per month at Fnac Darty
Citroën has worked out an appealing long term rental offer: you can call the Ami yours for just €19.99 per month – if you pay €2,644 up front. Strangely enough, Citroën sees €1,800 for a driver's licence as a big obstacle, but the downpayment not as much.
If you can believe Citroën’s CEO Vincent Cobée, a major benefit is that parents no longer need to play taxi for their kids: they can drive the Ami themselves as soon as they hit 14. That’s indeed the minimum age in France to be allowed to get behind the tiny steering wheel of the pettable Ami. In the rest of Europe, it is a more sensible 16 years. They may prefer an Ami over a scooter as it is more versatile and protects them against the elements without being the laughingstock of their peers.
In addition to its own sales network, Citroën will be using that of a consumer electronics retailer in France: Groupe Fnac Darty. “If we can sell €10k tv and infotainment sets, I am sure we can be an interesting sales channel for an electric microcar,” said Enrique Martinez, CEO of Group Fnac Darty at yesterday’s press presentation in Paris. He will be showcasing the Ami in 30 Fnac and Darty points of sales across France in the next weeks and also offer the quadricycle in the respective webshops. “With the Ami, we strengthen our position as a provider of urban mobility solutions that are both innovative and compliant with what our customers want.”
3 to 4 weeks after you have signed the order, Citroën will bring the Ami to your doorstep, together with a product genius to explain the operation.
Should you want to buy the Ami outright, you can do so physically or online at a starting price of €6,900 including VAT. If you deduct the federal sales incentive in France, you only need €6,000 to become an Ami owner.
The perfect last-mile sharing vehicle
It stands to reason that most of all, the Citroën Ami makes sense as a shared urban last-mile electric vehicle – one that you use after having taken the metro, the bus or the train to reach your final destination. But at €0.26 per minute, it might as well be an alternative to public transport tout court.
That’s the rate you pay in PSA’s Free2Move Share programme. The monthly subscription fee is just €9.90, no strings attached. If anything, that seems incredibly cheap. It’s about the same price as a Lime or Byrd e-scooter in Paris – which also need to be charged but are faced neither with parking issues nor traffic jams and can easily be moved around to meet demand.
It is still unclear how Free2Move Share will handle this logistically and if the system will be free-floating or station-based. Critics would say it’s impossible to be profitable at the rates it applies, pointing at BMW’s DriveNow and Daimler’s Car2Go, neither of which have ever seen a euro of profit. Still, the Ami is a lot cheaper to build - its front and rear bumpers are identical, just as the underbody panels and its doors. With its 2.41 meters, the Ami takes up half a standard parking space and it doesn’t need an expensive charging station to top up its small battery.
A standard household socket suffices to fully charge the 5.5kWh battery in just 3 hours, which according to Citroën provides a range of 70km. Presuming you never deplete the battery entirely, 50km seems more realistic.
Corporate mobility solution
Fleet Europe sees another use case for the Citroën Ami. It could be integrated in a mobility package for young employees without a driver’s licence, either as a personal company “car” or as a pool vehicle. The Ami surely has the cool factor to seduce the hip, young and license-less. There is a question mark, though: safety. Even though the microcar can only drive 45kph and it comes with three-point seatbelts, Citroën provides no proof that it is rigid enough to withstand a crash and protect those inside, contenting itself with the statement that the Ami offers "a level of protection greater than that offered by 2- or 3-wheeled vehicles" .
Citroën will start taking orders for the Ami on March 30 in France with Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Germany following in the next months. The first Amis will roll off the production line in Morocco in May and deliveries are expected to start in June.