The Citroen Ami is tiny enough to fit into the smallest parking spot, and in France can be legally driven by a 14 year old. This no-frills French EV shows that less can be more, if you’re not too demanding.
- The Citroen Ami is a modern EV that uses throwback design from the French automaker’s classic models.
- The two-passenger Ami has a range of 43 miles for every charge and a top speed of 28 mph.
- In France, the Ami can be driven without a driver’s license.
The Citroen Ami is a tiny electric car that is more than 4 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper. (Photo: Citroen)
Designed for young drivers
The Citroen Ami is part modern electric car and part throwback to vintage Citroen models like the iconic 2CV, Mehari off-roader, and the original Ami sedan built in the 1960s and ’70s. These classics were famous for their utility, low price, simplicity, and near-total lack of comfort and convenience features.
The new Ami (French for “friend’) is an electric coupe targeted primarily at city dwellers – or anyone who wants a low-speed EV that can be driven without a driver’s license. In France, kids as young as 14 are permitted to drive this unique segment of vehicles that’s categorized as “vehicules sans permis” (vehicles without a license). In other European countries, the allowable driving age for these speed-limited vehicles is often 16 years old. These vehicles are also popular with elderly drivers – particularly those living in rural areas where a car is essential, but getting someplace quickly is less of a priority.
The dashboard of the Citroen Ami is extremely simple, with a cradle for your smartphone that occupies the center of the dash. (Photo: Citroen)
Mini-er than a Mini
Stretching a little more than 94 inches in length, the Ami is a whopping 55 inches shorter than a two-door Mini Cooper. There is room for two passengers and, we assume, a very modest amount of luggage behind the seats. As for the cabin, your smartphone acts as the primary source of information.
There is a small digital display in front of the driver, for essentials like speed and remaining charge. Other than that, the interior is a study in automotive minimalism. The door handles are loops of colored nylon, the bottom half of the side windows flip upward for ventilation (there is heating, but no a/c), and there are assorted nooks and storage cubbies on top of the dash itself.
Curiously, the driver and passenger doors have different hinge points. The driver’s side door is hinged at the back, while the passenger’s door swings open in the opposite direction. The charge port for the Ami is tucked onto the passenger’s side, located near the door handle. To make production more cost effective – and potential repairs easier – the front and rear bumper are identical and interchangeable.
The which-way-is-it-going design also includes doors that are hinged at the front and rear, depending on which side of the Ami you’re on. (Photo: Citroen)
Not much juice
Powering this tiny Citroen is a 5.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack housed in the floor of the chassis. This works in conjunction with a 6-kilowatt electric motor and automatic transmission. Total output is approximately 8 horsepower, which makes top speed just 28 mph. Recharging using a 220-volt outlet will take about three hours. A Bugatti, it’s definitely not! But the Citroen Ami is meant to be an extremely simple city car, not an ego-stroking machine.
Citroen will make driving the Ami a versatile proposition. The base price is 6,000 euros, or approximately $6,800 at current exchange rates. The entire purchase can be done online, with the vehicle delivered to your home or office. Another option is that for roughly $3,000 down, the Ami can be rented for up to 48 months at the equivalent of $23 dollars per month. The Ami will also be available as part of a ride-share service that charges a monthly membership fee and per-minute usage rate.
Citroen’s pint-size electric car draws its name and some design cues from the classic Ami sedan, built in the 1960s and ’70s. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Not for U.S.
As for any chance of the Ami coming to the U.S. market, that would be slim to none. Then again, the PSA Group, parent company of French automakers Citroen and Peugeot, has routinely said it intends to return to the U.S. sometime within the next 3-5 years. It’s not totally inconceivable a product like the Ami could find its way here, though the odds are probably as long as the Ami is short.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Citroen is getting back to basics and going back to its roots with the Ami electric car. Cheap to buy, easy to park, and very slow to drive, the Ami is targeting a small and unique niche in the electric vehicle market.