Citroën’s tiny Ami One city car concept has gone on display in the UK for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Ami One, which made its public debut at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, is a two-seat show car that meets Europe’s quadricycle regulations. That means it’s less than 1.5m wide, has a top speed of 28mph and weighs less than 450kg. As a result, it could be driven without a driving licence in some countries.
The concept explores some of the issues facing makers of very small cars as consumers turn to bigger models or stop buying cars entirely.
“The young are connected to use, not ownership,” said Citroën’s senior vice-president of product and strategy, Xavier Peugeot. “To me, Ami One is not a car. There are people for whom mobility is not an object.”
The Ami One is intended to be a vehicle whose use would be shared at least as much as it’s privately owned, so it is built simply and cheaply and to be tough.
“The materials are all chosen for durability,” said Frédéric Duvernier, Citroën’s head of concept cars, who led the design of the Ami One.
To cut production costs, there’s a huge reduction in the number of components required to make the Ami One. The front and rear windows are different but otherwise body panels are common across sides wherever possible.
Both doors are the same, so the driver’s door is rear-hinged, the passenger side conventional; the orange panels below the windscreen and rear window are common; the chevron-ribbed sills are common across four sides; and every wheel arch is an identical moulding. Exterior badging is all by decal and the rear lights use only two LEDs apiece.
Onboard electrical content is pared back, too. The Ami One integrates with the entertainment and navigation systems of a smartphone, whose screen it mirrors onto a head-up display and which the driver controls by voice. That and the instruments are where the car’s only interior electrics lie. The windows are either open or closed, not electrically operated, and the 2CV-style fold-back roof is hand-operated.
According to Citroën CEO Linda Jackson, the Ami One is not cited for production but does explore what Citroën’s city cars could become, given the segment’s dwindling number of buyers.
“When you see the size of the segment, and people moving to B-segment and B-SUVs, we’ll not straight replace the C1,” she said. “What is the evolution? We’re talking urban areas and car sharing, although you might want ownership. Anything for cities means electric. We need to look at the A-segment and what is the next answer. Maybe it is the Ami One.”
Q&A with Frederic Duvernier, head of concept cars, Citroen
What brought about the Ami One?
“Between 16 and 30 years old, nobody buys cars. So there’s a group who don’t buy cars but who still need to move. Concept cars have a role in the company to move us forwards. We asked ourselves questions with every part: do we need it, or what do we need?”
Tell us about its design.
“Initially, it was going to be smaller. When you are surrounded by SUVs, you must feel confident. It’s not friendly. It’s not feminine. It’s robust, as a tool. On the exterior, we have halved the number of components you’d normally need.”
And what about the interior?
“It’s the same thinking as the  Cactus concept inside. Maybe that was too early! But the world has changed very quickly. The interior paint is like on aeroplanes. The seat flock is super-low tech. And dotted fabric hides stains.”