Citroën Oli (2022): affordable electric car for the whole family?

Darling, they shrunk the lobster! And then even brought to France. Because while GM in America amazes us with the rebirth of the SUV dinosaur as the king of electric pick-ups, Citroën is now making us smile about its little brother.

“Oli” is the name of the little character who looks as if he wants to plow the beach in Cannes or take the Champs-Élysées on the green verge. And he – like him lobster – has a bunk. At least if you lower the tailgate, remove the rear seats and fold in the rear window.

Citroën Oli should break with the manufacturer arms race

Even if the Citroën Oli looks suspiciously like fun – it has a serious background. Citroën is thus admitting to the bitter truth that driving a car will become unaffordable for many in the mobility turnaround. The show car should show how that hpindustry can perhaps still turn things around.

Citroën Oli

Both the roof and the hoods are made of cardboard – but reinforced with honeycomb and coated with a protective varnish to offer more stability.

Otherwise, family cars will no longer cost 22,000 euros like a current C3 Aircross, but 36,000 euros like the electric C4. And even if such more conventional e-cars should become a bit cheaper in the future, the subsidies should dry up in return; and the bottom line is that we have to pay more again in the end.

Or not. Because with the Oli, the French want to break with the eternal arms race of the manufacturers. Where car manufacturers, like the butchers used to, like to ask whether there should be something more, the Oli should go “back to basic”. Motto: Less must be enough. An everyday car suitable for families shouldn’t cost more than 25,000 euros – a task that must have caused the designers and engineers a lot of headaches.

Citroën Oli

Pick-up platform à la Hummer: tailgate down, back seat away and fold in the rear window.

For more range, fuel consumption and weight have to go down

More than 40 kWh battery capacity is not possible at this price. But because the car is still supposed to travel around 400 kilometers, consumption has to drop to 10 kWh per 100 kilometers. That’s about the same as the Mercedes EQXX, except that its price would probably be in six figures if the multi-million-dollar one-off went into production.

Citroën Oli

The cockpit only comes to life when you insert your smartphone into a slot behind the steering wheel.

The solution is a strict diet, for which Citroën has set a target of 1000 kilograms. This means that the Oli hardly weighs more than twice as much as the tiny Citroën Ami, which is only 45 km/h fast, does a maximum of 75 kilometers and offers space for two. And it’s half a ton lighter than the current one ë-C4 with its 50 kWh battery.

Seats from the 3D printer, body parts made of cardboard

But while Mercedes slims down with outrageously expensive materials, the French let their imagination run wild and save on smart fabrics. For example, with seats that run out of the 3D printer as an airy skeleton made of polyurethane and on top of that consist of only 7 instead of more than 30 parts. That lowers the assembly costs – just like the identical front and rear bumpers or the identical doors on both sides.

Citroën Oli

To save costs, the front and rear bumpers are identical. The same applies to the doors, which are identical on both sides.

Citroën also saves weight and money on the hood and roof, which are folded from cardboard. But anyone who thinks of Trabi and is afraid of the smallest bump in the park should be taught otherwise – because both the roof and hood are reinforced with honeycomb and covered with a protective varnish, which makes the cardboard more stable.

Dyed-through interior and bottom made from sneaker sole material

The interior also shows its clever penny-pinching side – and it also looks really good. Completely through-dyed and lined with a mat made of the same material that Adidas and Co bake the soles of our sneakers from, it looks extremely airy and relies on charming minimalism with simple door openers, folding windows and a cockpit that only comes to life when you slide your smartphone into the slot next to the steering wheel.

Citroën Oli

Charging socket under the logo: With a 40 kWh battery and a targeted range of 400 kilometers, consumption must drop to 10 kWh per 100 kilometers.

Because instead of continuing to compete with Apple and Co, Citroën has given up the race against Silicon Valley and is taking advantage of the intelligence of smartphones. Most of them are further anyway – and already paid, argues Citroën design boss Pierre Leclercq.

Of course, they won’t be able to implement everything they demonstrate at Oli. And it’s extremely unlikely that they will later send us on an economy trip in the eco-Hummer. “But the ideas from the concept car will stimulate our later models, we will build an affordable electric car,” promise the makers of the Oli – and are thus pulling in the same direction as VW with the plans for the iD.2 or Renault with the electric R5 .

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