Less is more. That’s the Citroën Ami in a nutshell. The all-electric four-wheeler with its 75-kilometre-range targets a young, urban group of buyers who simply want to get from A to B. We tested it and wondered whether the little friend is also suitable for fleet use.
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How do you begin a car review of a car that is reduced to the bare essentials? With what is missing: air conditioning, interior mirrors, radio, navigation, power windows, trunk, heated seats. Okay, this list would go on. So let’s look at the price: 6,000 euros. That is how little the Citroën Ami costs in France. And will in Germany, when it arrives there at the end of the first quarter of next year, as the Citroën managers promised this week at a driving event in Berlin. When PSA debuted the Ami in France, they also promised market entry in Southern Europe around 2021. Only the UK website still considers the compact EV a concept.
But back to Berlin. The small amount of euros buys you a spartan little auto comprising 250 individual parts, which a 5.5 kWh small battery should be able to carry around for up to 75 kilometres. (Our display showed 65 when fully charged.) With 471 kilos, the Ami is a real lightweight but also takes only two people. The 48-volt drive delivers 6 kW on the front axle. With the battery located in the rear, the weight seems well distributed. Thanks to a maximum speed of 45 kph or 28 mph, even holders of a class AM driver’s license (keyword: moped license) are allowed to drive the small EV as early as at the age of 16. So far, so little.
Clearly: You won’t drive the Citroën Ami to go on vacation or to see your mother-in-law. Even a trip beyond the Berlin city borders requires planning. But that’s precisely the idea: Many people only drive short distances to work or shopping anyway. And they may have two cars in the household. One of them could be this little friend in future.
At the same time, the small electric car could also be attractive for a fleet application or two. Unfortunately, the Citroën staff on-site did not relay as to whether the fleet sector already plays a role in sales in France. But as is well known, PSA runs the EV in their car-sharing Free2move. It couldn’t get more fleet…
Our test drive across Berlin also gave us the following ideas: Nursing services, which operate in defined quarters, could see the vehicle as a solution between a bicycle (actually recommendable) and larger cars (hard to find parking space). The Ami would also suit delivery services that are not on the road 24/7 or can charge during breaks. In the municipal sector – for messenger trips or in parking management – there should be numerous applications as well.
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We could continue this list of ideas at will. Of course, potential friends of Ami vehicles in the fleet should make sure to supply sufficient charging infrastructure. Since the car currently only has a standard plug (think Schuco socket) – hidden in the passenger door – it doesn’t need much. Simple external sockets would suffice given the manageable 1.8 kW. An adapter for type 2 charging stations and wall boxes is to come but seems superfluous. It takes three hours to fully charge the little energy pack, one way or another.
Sure, the Ami offers little luxury. The seats are hard, the windshield heater is noisy – and there is a complete lack of cooling. That’s why you should probably take test drives in winter and summer first. But for cities that dare for fewer cars, Citroën has the answer. At 7.2 meters, the turning circle is extremely small and a source of joy in dense city traffic. And, the Ami is a little eye-candy – it’s been some time since we’ve got this many curious glances and smiley thump-ups in Berlin Mitte.
Only the approval-related limit of 45 kph (the Ami runs in EU class L6e) is perhaps a little too slow for the flow on Berlin’s large axes. Between SUV and truck, we sometimes felt a bit lost. But at last, the search for a parking space, that usually turns into parking found with this little friend, compensates for it. And so does the smile of the pedestrians at the next traffic light.
Reporting by Peter Schwierz, Berlin.
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