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Geneva: Citroën concept targets city car bans

Retro-styled EV designed to be driven without car licence.

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Citroën has unveiled its petite AMI One concept car at the Geneva motor show – but it’s not actually a car at all.

The AMI One is classified as a heavy quadricycle, putting it into the same category as the Renault Twizy. This means that in theory, it could be driven by teenagers as young as 16 – or 14 in the brand’s native France, and without a car driving licence.

More usefully, Citroën says, the AMI One could be exempt from future city-centre bans on cars – allowing drivers to retain their mobility. The brand claims it’s attempting to revolutionise the world of transport for city dwellers in the same way that the 2CV did for rural French people way back in 1948.

The AMI One is all-electric, with a top speed of 28mph and a range of only 50 miles. But this is equivalent to the myriad VSPs – voiture sans permis – that already populate much of rural France, popular with both young drivers and those who are unable to drive larger vehicles.

Retro styling

The concept is named after the French word for ‘friend’ but also harks back to the iconic Ami 6 and Ami 8 cars from Citroen’s past. Despite the modern styling, the Ami one is dripping in heritage – with flip-down windows, just like the 2CV, and a ‘pod’ on the steering wheel which pays homage to the ‘satellite’ control pods found on the Visa.

That pod is the only physical control in the Ami One’s interior, with most of the interface taking place via a smartphone app. Users are expected to place their phone in a cradle behind the steering wheel, where a Perspex display magnifies what’s on the phone’s screen to provide driving information and infotainment.

Citroen AMI One The Car Expert

“Our brief was to avoid redundancy of technology,” said Citroen’s chief interior designer, Jean-Arthur Madelaine. “Instead of having lots of displays for speed and infotainment, everything comes from your phone.”

Citroen is expecting users to rent the Ami rather than buy it – the brand suggests ‘ownership’ periods of anywhere from five minutes to five years, depending on the user’s needs. With access through a smartphone app rather than a traditional key, it’s possible that fleets of these could sit in city centres ready to be hired.

The Ami One could make production, but if it was approved it wouldn’t reach the market until after 2020.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.