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Buy, Rent, Share: Electric Citroën Ami Is a City Car for the Modern Era

Citroën's Ami brings its cute looks to the urban commute

Citroën's Ami One concept makes its way to reality as the production-ready Citroën Ami. This funky-looking French pod opens the doors to a new breed of city car-one that doesn't require a license to operate due to its status as a "light quadricycle." Well, at least in France, where anyone who holds a road safety certificate-a compulsory requirement for French residents born after 1987 and available to those as young as 14 years old-can take the Ami for a spin around their favorite arrondissement.

With a meager 8 hp produced from its electric motor and a top speed of 28 mph, the Ami won't take its passengers to their preferred location particularly quickly, though. Still, this little tortoise hopes to prove that slow and steady sometimes wins the race about town, and its overall length of 94.9 inches makes it a prime candidate for slipping into small parking spaces that are off-limits to bigger and quicker vehicles.

Given its small footprint and city-dwelling purpose, the Ami relies on a rather compact 5.5-kWh battery pack to feed its electric motor. On the plus side, this small pack takes a mere three hours to charge on a 220-volt socket. Unfortunately, the battery pack only offers enough juice to push the Ami approximately 43 miles before it needs a recharge.

Funky French Looks

At least the Ami looks the part of a funky French city car. Credit front and rear fascias that neatly mimic each other, large daylight openings, bubbly bodywork, and doors that open in opposite directions (the driver's side door sports a rear-hinge setup, while the passenger's side door features a typical front-hinge design. )

The cabin of the Ami is no less cute or kitschy, and the little EV's interior includes plenty of bright trim pieces, a slew of storage pockets, and seating for two. While space within the Ami seems plentiful given its size, the little Citroën's driver and passenger seats' limited adjustability may suppress overall comfort (the driver's seat slides, while the passenger seat is fixed). That said, cute touches, such as fabric pull straps in place of traditional door handles and 2CV-inspired manually tilting side windows, may just distract those within the Ami from paying attention to any discomfort caused by its seats' adjustment woes. 

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Dollars and Sense

No doubt, Citroën built the Ami to a price point. Still, the sub-$7,000 Ami seems like a surprisingly lot of vehicle for the money. Those not looking to spend that much cash, though, are also able to rent the little Citroën for approximately $22.00 per month following a nearly $3,000 down payment. Alternatively, drivers can access the Ami by way of a car-sharing service that charges around $0.30 per minute.

While the Ami looks like a smart way to commute in an urban environment and a promising alternative to car ownership, it would surely flounder in the United States, where the likes of Smart and various car-sharing services have failed to succeed. For now, then, the Ami remains little more than a pipe dream of what urban centers in America could do to limit emissions and increase access to personal transportation.