As auto-makers start to realize that millennials don’t care about ownership like previous generations did, they’re rushing to look for alternative business models. From ride sharing to cars-as-a-service. Now, Citroen has launched Ami with an entirely new concept.
On February 27, Citroen added the new Ami to their press website. Not to be confused with the Citroen sedan by the same name from the 1960s. Beyond the name, the two have nothing in common.
Ami, which means “friend” in French, is a two-seater, 100% electric and extremely compact. The real selling point of the vehicle though is its business model. According to Citroen, the Ami comes “with affordable ‘a la carte’ offers adapted to every need.”
Options for every budget
You can buy it outright (online) for about $6000, or share it with other commuters using Citroen’s Free2Move ride-sharing service for 26 cents per minute, or lease it for just under $22 a month.
Hold on to your seat for the real kicker; you don’t need a license to drive it – at least in Europe.
Literally anyone over the age of 14 in France, or 16 in Europe, can drive this car without needing a license or any other kind of paperwork. That’s because Ami is technically not a car. It’s a “light quadricycle” that can only go up to 45km/h (28mph).
If you’re wondering how this is supposed to replace your car, it’s not. It allows teens to get around the city – without ever getting on the highway.
The other limitation of this vehicle is its battery. The 5.5kWh lithium-ion unit that powers it only gets you 70 kilometers (43 miles) of driving. The upside is that it takes only three hours to fully charge on a conventional 220V socket. You can also charge the Ami at any public outlet that uses a conventional European socket. This is great news since you don’t need to find a compatible charging station.
The deal breaker
Sadly, the Citroen Ami’s greatest selling point is also its deal-breaker once you dive into the fine print. The $22 monthly cost sounds fantastic, until you realize you first need to make a down payment of over $3000. At this point, you might as well fork out another $3000 and own the vehicle completely.
If leasing it for $22 a month was a payment plan so you could eventually own the Ami, that would be one thing. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.
That said, the Ami still might prove popular, since $3000 is still a lot easier to swallow than double that. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t structure the pricing better to make the lease seem more appealing when compared to buying. Then again they’re probably banking on the $22 figure to grasp the attention of teenagers.
What’s a lot more interesting than this current vehicle is the disruption of the car industry. Between a non-luxury manufacturer like Nissan entering the car-as-a-service arena and Citroen creating a whole new kind of vehicle and business model, hopefully the competition spices up and gets more interesting.