A Manifesto for… Freedom?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
a manifesto for 8230 freedom

While your author is normally very wary of manifestos, especially those originating from Europe, an automotive missive from France captured his attention.

It contained all the right ingredients: personal autonomy (ie – freedom), affordability, and most important of all, deregulation. It was a manifesto of freedom, penned by Citroën. I’m yours, comrade — er, camarade!

Promising “freedom of use for everyone,” the storied French marque’s Ami One Concept is a compact, green solution to personal transportation that doesn’t involve getting wet or run over by a normal vehicle. It’s not a scooter or a bike, nor an e-bike, nor a pair of trainers. It’s not an autonomous mobility shuttle, either.

It is, for all intents and purposes, a car, though Citroën insists on calling it an “urban mobility object.” (That term is the least sexy thing to come out of France since Gérard Depardieu…)

So, what is the Ami One? The [s]car[/s] [s]vehicle[/s] urban mobility object, which borrows its name from a popular B-segment model built from 1961 to 1978, is Citroën’s idea of transportation for the masses. In a sense, it’s a new take on the people’s car — a latter-day 2CV, only slower. And smaller. And electric. And rentable for periods of anywhere from five minutes to five months, or maybe longer, should you sign a five-year lease.

It also represents freedom from the state, as renters/lessees aged 16 and up wouldn’t need a driver’s license to operate one. Keep in mind we’re talking European laws here.

Built frugally, the two-seat, closed-cabin vehicle is said to be capable of 100 km (62 miles) of emission-free driving on a single charge, at speeds of up to a blistering 45 km/h (28 mph). Barring a horrible navigation error, you and your passenger clearly won’t find yourself speeding down a European motorway in this rig. This is a city car designed for people who don’t feel like hailing a cab, taking transit, or hoofing it to their destination a few miles distant.

All of this service would be accessible to anyone with a smartphone, Citroën claims. Whip out your phone, open the mobile app, locate a car, unlock it, and drive away. Find charging facilities in the same manner. Paying for the service would be accomplished just like any other app-based short-term rental.

As for the vehicle itself, Citroën claims the Ami One stretches 8.2 feet in length, which is just over half a foot shorter than a Smart Fortwo. Weight is 937 pounds. The cabin, designed around the two occupants, is fashioned to maximize cargo space — of which there are obvious limits. Those are 18-inch wheels, by the way. Naturally, the automaker teamed up with artists and designers, some of whom might be familiar with manifestos themselves, to design shopping baskets and travel bags for this concept. (There’s also an online lifestyle boutique associated with this concept; one we won’t link to.)

PSA Group, the brand’s parent company, knows a thing or two about mobility. Its Free2Move car sharing service is now available in select U.S. markets, and PSA has high hopes of becoming a global mobility juggernaut by 2030. A purpose-made product like Ami One would help tighten the automaker’s grip on the mobility market while taking advantage of the environment created by oppressively anti-car and anti-ICE city governments. After all, who wants a scooter when there’s a license-free car available?

The Ami One won’t knock pedestrians off the sidewalk, either.

It’s an intriguing concept for highly developed areas with tepid speed limits, and the automaker’s heavy use of the word “freedom” in its marketing materials is indeed intoxicating. One can’t help but grin while viewing the video posted below, watching Citroën throw mobility assumptions back in the faces of the “cars are evil” urbanist crowd.

The Ami One Concept debuts to the public at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

Vive la France.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Scottydbray Scottydbray on Feb 20, 2019

    Of all the personal pod cars to date, this one is by far the best-looking by a long shot. This is a car you'd not be ashamed nor embarrassed to own. The purple interior is completely uncalled for, but in less jarring shade that would be quite handsome as well.

  • Lon888 Lon888 on Feb 21, 2019

    Personally it gives me another reason to like French cars, especially Citroens and Alpines. The small styling cues are amazing.

  • Bullnuke Chief Transition Officer, eh? And the term "Lean Manufacturing" being spoken... Is that the sound of the headsman's axe being ground sharp that I hear in the background? Brings back memories of the late '00s at my old OEM coatings plant.
  • BEPLA At the right price, would be a great EV conversion candidate.
  • BEPLA In other news: It costs more to eat out than to eat at home.
  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)