Electric, autonomous cars is exactly where I want the French to take the reins. I am serious — and you’ll see why in a second.
- Citroen debuts the electric and autonomous 19_19 Concept with 500 mile range.
- French cars are weird: no two seats match, the entire windshield is a HUD, the exterior.
- We are at a point where cars can become anything and Citroen gets that, maybe better than most.
French brand Citroen revealed its latest electric and autonomous concept this week. It’s called 19_19 and it is a hulking but stylish thing to behold.
First of all, it’s said to have a range just shy of 500 miles per charge (497 miles), 372 of which can be be replenished in a 20-minute recharge. In addition to its long range, it is also just downright long. For example, the 19_19 has the same 10.1-foot wheelbase as a BMW X7 full-size crossover.
Despite its gargantuan size, it’s pretty quick. Thanks to its all-wheel drive system that pushes its 456 all-electric horsepower to the pavement, a 0 to 62 mph run is reached in 5.0 seconds, and it can hit a top speed of 124 mph.
The 19_19s’ performance is all well and good. Its interior, though, is where this French brand underscores its grasp of 21st century style and modern luxury.
A modern take on Citroen’s mono-spoke steering wheel has been fitted, which retracts into the dash during self-driving mode. An augmented reality head-up display (HUD) is projected on the whole windshield, projecting navigation directions seemingly out onto the road ahead itself, whether the vehicle is in automated or manual driving modes.
Sort of like the fresh but funky interior of Citroen’s Ami One concept, the 19_19 is designed to be an extension of your home. As a result, no two seats in this full-size EV concept are the same. Each looks and reclines differently. This, I suppose, gives occupants the opportunity to find their favorite seat and position.
What’s more, it further distinguishes Citroen from the likes of the incredibly Teutonic designs of, say, an Audi. Take the AI:ME concept, which tackles automated driving design in a much more austere way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, if it were my time and money, I’d go for the Citroen every time.
As for the exterior, designers went for more of an aeronautics design motif than bright and fun living room. In fact, Citroen calls the 19_19 “a true UFO in the automotive sector.” The front is supposed to look like the transparent bubble of a helicopter. And the back windshield is concave. A black side panel can light up with digital displays, once it recognizes the rider, and can welcome them to the vehicle.
The body of the car sits so high because it has 30-inch wheels above which the body is suspended on Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension with smart active control that is intended to give a ride sensation akin to being on a magic carpet. Again, it’s a super French thing to do … and I love it.
Now, here’s why I want French brands like Citroen to play a big role in the future of automated and electrified mobility: They understand relaxation and fun. Do I want the Germans making the propulsion system? Yes, every single time. Do I want the French handling the visual designs? Yes.
Watch the video below and tell me you don’t want a happy bright interior with fun woven seats greeting you every time you climb into your self-driving car. I mean look at that fun AI box. How great is that?
If the majority of Americans are afraid of self-driving cars now, wait until they’re as cheery and accessible as the 19_19. A car like this rolling around could definitely win over some hearts and minds.