French urbanites embrace £5,000 Citroen electric cube car

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France is embracing Citroen’s new electric cube car as commuters return to work in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Citroen Ami, which can be driven by kids as young as 14 who have passed a moped test, has received rave reviews since it hit Parisian streets in March. 

The dinky vehicle is being sold online at French retailers and is also being offered by a self-service car-sharing company in Paris in a range of arty designs.

While the two-seater vehicle is safe to operate on city roads, drivers can’t travel much further than the city, as the range is only 44 miles. 

The 100-year-old French automobile maker is targeting eco-conscious youth with the affordable fully-electric vehicle, which reaches a top speed of 30 miles an hour. 

Ami is not yet available in the UK, although Citroen plans to expand to other markets in Europe this year. 

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PSA's Citroen new electric city cars AMI for Free2Move free-floating car-sharing service are seen during a media presentation in Paris in August

PSA’s Citroen new electric city cars AMI for Free2Move free-floating car-sharing service are seen during a media presentation in Paris in August

Citroen says the vehicle combines all the advantages of 100 per cent electric technology with ‘a bold and colourful design and ease of use’ and has the potential to become ‘an urban and popular icon’.

‘With this new and unique urban mobility vehicle, the brand is aiming to make individual mobility available to in the city,’  it says on its website. 

‘Ami One is for urban customers with or without a driver’s licence who share the love of the brand with the same love for freedom of movement.’   

A line of Citroen Ami cars seen in Paris, France, available for hire in a range of funky colours

A line of Citroen Ami cars seen in Paris, France, available for hire in a range of funky colours

The car is almost 8 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, which helps it fit into small parking spaces in busy and congested areas. 

Because it reaches only 30 miles an hour, the vehicle is suited to slow zones in city centres and less to trips to the country or down main roads. 

It can be charged using a domestic socket in just three hours and is powered by a 6kW electric motor, which is linked to a 5.5kWh lithium ion battery.  

The car’s two doors open in opposite directions, which, according to Citroen allows easier access to the cabin. 

The driver’s door has hinges at the rear, while the passenger door has its hinges in the more conventional configuration at the front.  

The driver’s seat can be slid backwards and forwards, while the passenger seat is in a fixed position.

Citroen plans mainly to sell the car online. Two-seater cars can be driven without a licence in major European markets

Citroen plans mainly to sell the car online. Two-seater cars can be driven without a licence in major European markets

The car is almost 8 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, which helps it fit into small parking spaces in busy and congested areas

The car is almost 8 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, which helps it fit into small parking spaces in busy and congested areas

The car also has a panoramic roof to allow more sunlight through, and although there is no boot, riders can fit a cabin suitcase at the foot of the passenger. 

The driver’s smartphone is central to the interface on the Ami, which makes driving ‘easy and peaceful’, Citroen says.

Once inside, drivers place their phone in front of them in the designated wireless charging area and the dialogue between Ami One and the driver begins. 

The information from the phone is displayed in the driver’s field of vision while they’re driving as a replacement for the conventional dashboard.   

Citroen Ami is classified as a light quadricycle, and could be driven by youngsters in the UK as long as they have passed the government’s compulsory basic training for riding a moped. 

In France, children as young as 14 will be allowed to drive the car, where Citroen plans to make them available for long-term rental at £17 a week with a £2,227 deposit, or 22p a minute on a car-sharing basis.  

The Ami car is also available to buy outright for £5,054 online and through French electronics retailer Fnac Darty, the biggest electronics and entertainment chain. 

A Free2Move free-floating car-sharing service new electric car with a customised pattern. The eye-catching exteriors should attract Paris's artistic types

A Free2Move free-floating car-sharing service new electric car with a customised pattern. The eye-catching exteriors should attract Paris’s artistic types

In the French capital, the vehicle is already being offered by the self-service car-sharing firm Free2Move, Autoplus reports.  

French press have generally given the car positive reviews – the daily national newspaper Le Figaro said: ‘Thumbs up. Hand signs, smiling approval from people aged seven to 77. The Ami stirs a wave of enthusiasm.’

Autoplus said: ‘During our test drive, we appreciated the brightness of the passenger compartment thanks to the large glass surfaces’ although it noted its ‘gloomy interior’ due to a lack of colour.   

Interior of the car, which carries two passengers including the driver and has slidingdriver's seat. Autoplus said the red stripes are 'the only touch of colour in this gloomy interior'

Interior of the car, which carries two passengers including the driver and has slidingdriver’s seat. Autoplus said the red stripes are ‘the only touch of colour in this gloomy interior’

The first orders for an Ami were accepted in France from March 30, with the markets in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Germany opening later. 

‘In the UK, it will come later – if it comes,’ Citroen’s head of marketing Arnaud Belloni told Autocar. 

‘We need to validate the project in France and other countries first.’

In a recent review, motoring magazine Auto Express said ‘the time is right for cars like Citroen Ami in the UK’. 

‘In a world where public transport is increasingly looking like an unattractive proposition, an affordable personal transportation solution such as the Ami really does seem like the right car at the right time,’ said Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler. 

It is powered by a 5.5 kilowatt lithium ion battery that can be charged via domestic plug in three hours using a built-in cable stored in the passenger doorway

It is powered by a 5.5 kilowatt lithium ion battery that can be charged via domestic plug in three hours using a built-in cable stored in the passenger doorway

The design is super small as Citroen has created it for urban areas. And you won't be able to go much further than the city, as the range is only 44 miles

The design is super small as Citroen has created it for urban areas. And you won’t be able to go much further than the city, as the range is only 44 miles

According to Citroen, the first orders for an Ami were accepted in France from March 30, with the markets in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Germany opening later

According to Citroen, the first orders for an Ami were accepted in France from March 30, with the markets in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Germany opening later

The Citroen Ami, is classified as a light quadricycle and can be driven by 16-year-olds as long as they have passed compulsory basic training for riding a moped

The Citroen Ami, is classified as a light quadricycle and can be driven by 16-year-olds as long as they have passed compulsory basic training for riding a moped

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