Citroen and Jaguar are looking to the future of urban mobility with off-the-wall EVs

At the now-cancelled Geneva Motor Show we were building up for a couple of things: lots of new electric concept cars that look and drive like cars, and many 'solutions for urban mobility' – which don't. Both Citroen and Jaguar have presented their ideas for future, electrified urban mobility and neither is exactly conventional.

Citroen Ami One concept

Citroen is in its 101st year of existence and after a couple of decades of trying to conform to normality, it looks like it's had to finally give in to the urge to do something totally off-the-wall. So, after what must have been a strong session on the Beaujolais, or an even stronger one on the absinthe, we arrive at the Ami One – a mobility solution that defies definition so much that Citroen is calling it an “all-new 'object'”.

The idea behind the Ami originates in that now well-trodden path of trying to work out ways of moving around more cleanly and efficiently in urban areas. It's also designed to be 'micro-mobility' for (almost) anyone as a real alternative to scooters, bikes, mopeds and even public transport. And for this reason, it's designed to be legal to be driven by 16-year olds, or 14-year olds in France.

Yep, the Ami One could be driven by teenagers, which we assume is down to the fact that in law it would be classified as a quadracycle.  

Thankfully the Ami One is neither big, nor powerful. At 2.41 metres long, 1.39 metres wide, and with a 7.2 metre turning circle, it's a tiddler. Inside there's room for two in relative comfort and with heating, a bit of storage and – thanks to clever packaging – plenty of room even for 'the tallest occupants'. Side windows even flip up like those on the 2CV which is a lovely little nod to the Ami's spiritual predecessor.

In an attempt to appeal on an even greater level to a younger urban audience, the Ami One is customisable in the way it looks. From trim details like a rear spoiler, through to interior and exterior colours and down to graphics, stickers and wheels, buyers will very much be able to make and Ami One their own.

Put it this way, as a means of getting around it's much better and more comfortable than a 50cc moped.

Under the skin the Ami is 100 per cent electric. A very small 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery offers a respectable range of up to 43 miles and a top speed of 28mph to ensure it's legal for a teenage audience. Given that between Heathrow in the west of London through to Dartford in the east is just over 40 miles that range is probably all anyone would ever really need, especially as more often than not the Ami One will be used for inner-city errands or short urban commutes.

Citroen is also giving the way people buy or access the Ami One a complete makeover. First and foremost, the Ami One can be bought 100 per cent online at any time, on any day. The only physical interaction would typically be a test drive – if desired – or simply pick-up/delivery.

Ownership is also different to most 'traditional' models. Long-term rental can be had for €19.99 per month for two years with an initial payment of €2644 – the idea being to imitate the way people pay for their smartphones. Alternatively, users can hire one per minute, hour or day – albeit the way this is delivered in reality will depend on Citroen's in-market partners. Citroen reckons that €0.26 per minute is doable. Finally, Citroen is aiming to sell the Ami One for €6000 – which is a very low-cost way of getting into electric mobility.

The Ami One is quirky, a bit mad, and it gets our enthusiastic seal of approval!

Jaguar 'Project Vector'

Jaguar's vision of future mobility is centred on an increased level of EV autonomy rather than small size and intriguing ownership possibilities. Its Project Vector concept has been developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre alongside academics and external partners to rethink the way people travel around urban areas – with one of the main outcomes being to improve people's quality of life.

The compact, flexible concept vehicles measures just four metres in length, packaging all its battery and drivetrain components into a flat floor, to allow a variety of uses – so it can be redeveloped for uses other than moving people around. For example, the interior cabin space allows seating configurations for private or shared use and even the opportunity for commercial applications, such as last mile deliveries.

If you've ever delved into the world of 'megatrends' (Google it), especially in the digital world, you'll know that connected cities are a huge topic of conversation. We're already partially there in many ways, with the 'internet of things' expanding exponentially in scope and size every day. Jaguar's Project Vector is designed to tap into this.

Dr. Tim Leverton, Project Director said: “The megatrends of urbanisation and digitalisation make connected urban mobility systems necessary and inevitable. Shared and private vehicles will share spaces with and be connected to public transit networks, so you can travel on demand and autonomously. That is a complex task, best achieved by working together with partners across the spectrum of vehicles, infrastructure and the digital world.

“With the technology and engineering power of Jaguar Land Rover, we can provide a unique opportunity for innovators to develop highly-functional urban mobility services, seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

“Future urban travel will be a composite of owned and shared vehicles, access to ride hailing and on-demand services as well as public transport. Our vision shows the vehicle as a flexible part of the urban mobility network that can be adapted for different purposes.”

Whilst this is all very flowery at the moment, Jaguar is working with Coventry City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority to get a pilot mobility service going by 2021. It'll be very interesting to see how that integrates and is embraced as it develops.

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