There isn’t much in this life that you can count on anymore, aside from the ability of the French to build some quirky-as-hell cars that solve a problem. The newest in a long line of French quirkmobiles is Citroën’s new all-electric “quadracycle” called the Ami. This is the ultimate cheap conveyance for eco-conscious city-dwellers who want windows. Think of it as a slightly more compact Smart, or a more comfortable Renault Twizy. It’s as bare as bones can get, has just 8 horsepower, and can only go about 30 miles per hour, but the lease rate is less than a meal for two in Paris.
Before you ask, no. Of course we will not be getting this machine here in the U.S. market. Despite it being cool as hell and the American working poor class growing by leaps and bounds every day, the Ami is never coming to this country in however many years you want to think of. A million? No way.
There are many who have mentioned that the transition to electric was leaving the poor behind. The need to be able to afford a new car is a huge barrier to entry in the electric market. Sure, there are a handful of used models for not too much scratch, but if you need the reliability to get to your job or else risk losing it, you’re probably not scrambling for a Nissan Leaf with 70,000 miles on it.
The Ami is your friend. Literally, Ami means friend in French. It’s available for just 19.99 euros per month, which is a good bit less than whatever the buy-here-pay-here lot is going to charge you for a three-year-old Toyota whatever. And this thing will never need gasoline.
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These things are great for Europe, because a quadricycle doesn’t require a license to drive. It’s available for anyone at least 14 years of age to drive on city streets up to 27.9 miles per hour. And while that wouldn’t be even remotely viable for the majority of American cities, it could certainly work in New York or San Francisco, for example. And unlike the Twizzy (which I drove in San Francisco a few years ago) the Ami actually has windows to keep the weather out!
The styling is totally polarizing, but I love this bug-eyed son of a bitch. It’s the perfect utilitarian conveyance, which is exactly what the majority of the car-buying public needs. Most drivers don’t give half a shit what they’re in, they just need something to get them from a to b. I mean, just look at that door configuration. It’s just so damn French! Ugh, the 2CV-style flip-up windows. C’est magnifique!
The interior is equally spartan, featuring just a small screen behind the steering wheel to display speed and state of charge. The suite of buttons in the center stack include a hazard switch, and a pair of toggles for temperature up and down and fan speed up and down. If you want more than that, there is a dock for your smart phone to operate navigation and music, as well as a place to put an optional bluetooth speaker. That’s right, the car is so bare bones it doesn’t even have speakers.
The 8 horsepower motor pushes around the car’s 1000 pound weight just fine. The 5.5 kWh battery under the floor gives this bad boy a range of about 43 miles, which, again, would be totally fine for a compact city like San Francisco. Or, like, Paris. The 14-inch rolling stock provides “easy handling” according to Citroën.
If you don’t want to make monthly payments, you can buy an Ami outright for about $6600, and they’ll deliver it right to your door. Or you can reserve one on-demand for about 30 cents per minute in major European cities.
It’s about time the world created a new people’s car. Of course it was the French who managed to make it happen.