Sustainable electric cars previewed by “fun and exciting” concept weighing 1000kg
The Citroën Oli is a new concept car illustrating the brand’s renewed commitment to affordability and sustainability, heralding an array of new technologies earmarked for upcoming cars.
An adventure-oriented pick-up similar in stature to the Citroën C3 Aircross, it doesn’t preview a production car (despite being road-legal) but rather serves as an embodiment of the marque’s new ‘back to right’ philosophy.
Design director Pierre Leclercq said the concept shows “the future is bright” and that “making something clever and affordable doesn’t mean that it has to be horrible; it [can] be fun and exciting.”
The headlines are a hypothetical price tag of around €25,000 (£22,560), a weight of around 1000kg, plus a 248-mile range from a relatively small 40kWh battery and a single electric motor.
However, it’s the concept’s design and construction that have the biggest implications for production-bound cars.
The front and rear bumpers are identical, as on the Citroën Ami. This reduces costs, both in manufacturing and repairing, as well as environmental impact, because only one set of moulds is required. On the whole, the car is made from 50% recycled material and is 100% recyclable.
Range-boosting aero was a key part of the brief, but the vertical windscreen is a defining design cue. It was mainly about challenging convention but also yielded benefits including significantly reduced material and labour requirements. Trick ducting in the headlights and bonnet directs air over the windscreen, mitigating drag. The exact same screen features at the rear, too.
The roof and bonnet are made from a cardboard compound, rather than steel. That might sound suspect, but creator BASF’s use of a honeycomb pattern has resulted in something strong enough for you to stand on. A coating provides additional strength while helping to keep out the rain and UV rays.
The custom-made 20in aluminium-and-steel wheels are cheaper to produce than equivalent alloys and weigh only 6kg more. They’re shod in experimental Goodyear Eagle Go tyres that will supposedly last 100,000km (62,000 miles), which means less waste. What’s more, the wheel arches can be removed with household tools, allowing for quick damage repairs.
A small 40kWh pack was chosen for cost, weight and environmental reasons, and the car was effectively designed around this. Top speed is limited to 68mph (110km/h) and the 0-62mph time was briefed to engineers in ‘slower than’ terms, rather than a target to beat. Ultimately, Citroën is targeting an efficiency of 6.2 miles per kWh – almost double that of most EVs currently on the market – for a range of 400km (249 miles).
Much like the Dacia Manifesto, the Oli employs a ‘bring your own device’ approach to infotainment. A cassette-player-like slot connects your phone to the wide infotainment screen and uses its computational power to drive the system. This means fewer on-board computers (and thus semiconductors) are required, reducing the Oli’s cost and environmental impact. Physical climate controls are also included for ease of use when on the move.
Tubular seat frames with 3D-printed backs reduce material use, while removable covers are meant to be easier to refurbish in years to come. Seat adjustment is limited to save on costs, but ‘suspension’ foam balls on the seat bases sink down as you sit, helping to position you at a more natural angle. Citroën also says they help to take some of the sting out of potholes.
Citroën’s new branding is a modernised version of its 1919 logo, appearing for the first time on the Oli. It signals a big change for the frontal design of future cars: where the Citroën C3, Citroën C4 and Citroën C5 X all have prominent chrome pieces flowing out from the badge, the Oli wears a simple shield. At the front, this lifts to reveal the charging port.