According to Citroën CEO, Vincent Cobée: “We called this project ‘oli’ as a nod to Ami, and because it sums up what the vehicle is all about – further proof that only Citroën can deliver no-nonsense, all-electric mobility to all kinds of people in unexpected, responsible and rewarding ways.”
The brand rather scathingly points out that the oli (all-e) isn’t a “2500kg palace on wheels filled with screens and gadgets” and achieves more with less. It also notes that cars are parked for 95 per cent of the time and 80 per cent of journeys are single occupant, so even with electronic powertrains, modern EVs are frivolous – and we tend to agree. This is where the Citroën oli steps in as a simple, smaller, lighter and more sustainable alternative.
Like the AMI, the Citroën oli is best described as quirky. Citroën says it makes a statement.
At 4.2m long, 1.65m tall and 1.9m wide, it is similar in size to a compact SUV, and in fact it does have some SUV design elements to it such as that height. The design is based around ‘horizontal meets vertical’, and there are practical reasons behind this. For example, the windscreen is vertical because that’s the shortest distance between the roof and the body of the car, minimising glass usage, weight and complexity.
Front doors are identical on each side, reducing the need for tooling in the factory and saving 20 per cent in weight per door. Stamped metal panels and removing speakers from the door further simplifies manufacture.
Other external panels such as the roof and ‘pick-up bed’ panels are made from corrugated cardboard between fibreglass reinforcing panels, coated in Elastoflex resin. This makes non-structural panels rigid, lightweight – by 50 per cent compared to steel – and strong. Thanks to some clever packaging, the boot in the oli doubles up as a pick-up bed, with a space of up to 1050mm long and 582mm tall. The bumpers are also non-conventional in the sense they’re 100 per cent recyclable and already made from 50 per cent recycled materials.
Citroën has been able to give the oli a relatively small battery due to its lightweight nature which, in-turn, is also significantly lighter than the 50+kWh batteries found in similarly sized cars.
Citroën reckons that the oli can return 248 miles on a charge which would be an extraordinary 6.2 miles per kWh – the sort of efficiency that niche, high-efficiency test EVs clamour for and around two kilowatt hours more than the most efficient EVs currently on the market. This is despite the oli’s boxy design, although Citroën has adopted an innovative ‘Aero Duct’ between the front section of the bonnet and the flat top panel which channels air smoothly over the roof.
Vehicle to load capability is built in enabling the oli to be used to help with grid load balancing or to provide power in the event of an outage, whilst Citroën imagines owners generating their own energy through solar or other renewables.
Simplification is at the heart of oli and this extends to the interior space. Rather than numerous screens and computers, oli’s dashboard has a steering wheel, a smartphone dock and five toggle switches to control the air conditioning. It uses just 34 parts – less than half that of a typical family hatch.
The infotainment and communication is delivered by an owner’s smartphone, which makes sense given that almost everybody has one and they often do the job of infotainment better than manufacturer-developed systems. Once plugged in, the phone merges with the car and essential information like speed and charge is displayed via a ‘Smartband’ system which projects the information across the width of the lower windscreen surround.
Removable Bluetooth speakers deal with the audio side of things, enabling Citroën to save weight on an in-built audio system.
Innovative materials and manufacturing concepts are extended throughout the cabin. For example, the front seats use just eight parts compared to a typical 37. Textiles are 100 per cent recycled and recyclable polyester whilst seat panels are made from recyclable thermoplastic. Innovative use of space means that there are numerous places to store, hang or keep things when on the move.
Summing up oli, Vincent Cobée, Citroën CEO, said: “Citroën oli exemplifies our mobility mission: responsible, straightforward and affordable for your daily life while still aspirational, desirable and enjoyable. It is our guiding light for the solution you’ll want to have as the only vehicle your family needs ten years from now.”
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