I’d Say Cars Are in No Danger of Being Replaced by Mobility Solutions Like This
The Citroen Ami looks cute and fun, but it's also kind of pointless?
The Citroen Ami has been kind of a darling of some of the automotive press and online car commentariat. I mean, who can blame them? It’s cute, funky, cheap, and oozes foreign forbidden fruit charm. For many, it seems like the perfect car solution, a cheapie low-range super urban commuter that could replace a lot of traditional car offerings on roads. Only one catch, though, it’s not really a car, and isn’t even that good at simulating being a car, either. British television show Fifth Gear recently put one through a series of basic tests, and almost rolled one over at a mere 10 mph.
The Citroen Ami is fun, it’s a small plastic super urban, fully-electric commuter type car with outputs of either 9 horsepower or 28, depending on the trim. The body panels are symmetrical from front to back, side to side; they’re interchangeable. It’s cheap, it’s quirky, it’s French, it’s fun. It also might be headed to the United States, in the form of a DC area car-sharing service that’s sort of a hybrid of those annoying Bird or Lime scooters, and the now-defunct Car2Go. The Ami has four wheels, an enclosed cabin that seats two side by side, and to the layperson, could easily fool someone into thinking it is a car.
But it isn’t a car, though. In fact, in its home country of France, it’s legally not a car (it’s a “quadricycle”) and can be driven by teens with no license, as young as the age of 14. The Ami has no airbags, no ABS, no traction control, and does not need to pass any sort of real car crash regulations.
Fifth Gear’s Vicki Butler-Henderson and Rory Reid did a short lap, ending with a quick slalom, at about 10 mph. The little city EV disconcertingly easily got on two wheels, terrifying everyone on the show.
Citroen reiterated to Fifth Gear that the Ami is “not a car” and “not meant to be raced or driven aggressively”. But, is a slalom at 10 mph really, “aggressive”? I’d drive 10 to 15 MPH around a traffic circle in even the most spartan and poor handling of regular-sized vehicles. The Ami, in my mind, falls into the same category as the pined for Wuling Hongguang Mini EV. Except, I think the Hongguang Mini EV might be closer to a car. Predictably, Fifth Gear rated the Ami poorly.
Now, I know I sound like Debbie Downer, shitting from a great height on everyone’s fantasies. I just think “cars” or, mobility options like the Ami can’t actually replace real cars. Sure, the push for electrification has us all reconsidering what we actually “need”, and yes, most of us don’t need two tons of steel just to run to the grocery store every now and again. I do think Citroen Ami-type vehicles can serve a purpose for some circumstances. I hope those circumstances don’t involve cornering at more than 10 mph.
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