Citroen’s new fully electric Ami, with its low pricing proposition and basic but functional approach to transport, is both bold and traditional in its approach.
The looks alone are a departure, even for Citroen, which is known to take a few risks here and there on the styling front. The €6900 (£5934) price is a real eye-catcher, too. There hasn’t been something like this from a mainstream manufacturer since the Renault Twizy.
Like the Twizy, the Ami is not a car. It is classified as a quadricycle, which means that it can be driven without a licence and in some countries by those as young as 14. In the UK you can only get behind the wheel once you are 16 and have passed the same CBT test that allows you to get onto a moped.
The performance stats, for want of a better description, will put off many – it has a top speed of 28mph, so is firmly aimed at short urban trips. A range of 43 miles isn’t bad, while a charging time of just three hours on a standard plug socket is not going to require too much planning.
It is a gloriously simplistic vehicle in many ways, with Citroen finding ways to make it cheaply and keep the concept uncomplicated. Perhaps the best example of this is the doors. The right-hand, passenger door opens conventionally with a front hinge, while the driver gets a door hinged at the rear. This is not to be intentionally quirky, but so that Citroen could make one style of door and use it on both sides.
At just 2.41m long, two Amis can fit into one parking space, while it is just 1.39m wide and 1.52m high with a turning circle of 7.2m. There is no massive boot – the backwards- set passenger seat allows luggage to go in the front footwell.
Buying the Ami
The Ami’s low price is eye-catching enough, with €6000 undercutting anything else with four wheels on the market.
What is more notable is the purchase plan, with a monthly price of €19.99 (around £17) cited. The not-very-small print reveals that this does require an initial payment of €2644 and for you to spread the remaining cost over 48 months, but it still takes you into a monthly payment that is close to a TV streaming service or the amount many spend on coffee.
Citroen is also pushing Free2Move car sharing, in which you could pay for the Ami by the minute, rather than the day or even the hour.
You’ll also be able to buy it through French electrical retailer Fnac Darty, which has 510 stores, but all buying will be online. There’s no word yet on a fleet system.
Currently, there is no sign of this approach, and phenomenally low price, spreading across to Citroen’s passenger car range, but it symbolises a sales technique that is moving rapidly away from the traditional ownership and retailer purchasing environment.
The styling is simple, mainly because there is only one colour. You can add some stickers and some internal features such as a bag hook, but even those you fit yourself.
Any British companies or individuals getting excited about ordering an Ami won’t be able to just yet – it is currently only left-hand drive. As to whether it will make it to these shores, the official line is ‘never say never’. Basically, if it takes off then we might
While the Ami isn’t technically a car, it comes at a time when Citroen is making its moves into electric vehicles. On the surface, the company could be thought to be slightly behind its PSA stablemates, with Peugeot turning out the e-208 and e-2008 this year and Vauxhall offering the Corsa-e.
Citroen CEO Vincent Cobee says the brand has big EV plans. Including Ami, there will be four ‘electrified’ cars in the range by the end of 2020, three EVs and the plug-in hybrid C5 Aircross, and two vans.
At the core of that will be the new lower-medium hatch, which will come with a fully electric version from launch.
“That car will be Citroen to its core, in design, innovation and comfort,” he says.
In some ways, though, it will be less outlandish than the outgoing C4 Cactus, as Cobee says: “We were carried away with innovation on the current vehicle. We will do something that we believe will be a more comprehensive and attractive option in that segment”
The electrification growth will have to come fast, with Cobee saying at least 40% of the range needs to be electric by the end of the decade.
“By 2030, we expect to have a CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) level 27.5% lower than 2021.
“And 2021 is already below what any internal combustion engine can do; as a corporate average you need to be below the best possible performance of any combustion engine.
“When the best ICE engine cannot deliver the average and then you need to reduce it by 40% take or leave some, that means that 40% of your fleet needs to be zero emission or you won’t cut it.”