Citroen calls its new concept vehicle Oli a “Swiss army knife”. It’s a pure electric SUV with a rear pick-up bed and split-opening doors with a focus on sustainability. It deploys the Ami four-wheeler ethos in a larger form factor and previews design and construction themes that will impact mainstream Citroen models in the future.
Citroen’s radical Oli concept crossover aims to break the mold of heavy, expensive electric cars, but the French firm claims the Oli isn’t a direct progenitor of a production model. However, it did provide a number of specific technical details for the show car and even an estimated asking price of €25,000 (about £22,017). The focus on weight loss means the Oli is expected to weigh just 1,000kg thanks to the use of lightweight recycled materials, simplified technology and a relatively small 40kWh battery.
Some of the Oli’s exterior trim is interchangeable, including the doors, wheel arch extensions and bumpers, helping to reduce manufacturing and repair costs. Certain non-structural elements of the body are made of honeycomb cardboard, which is 50 percent lighter than steel and yet strong enough to support an adult’s weight.
Elsewhere, the Oli uses a unique 20-inch wheel design that combines a strong steel face with an aluminum inner rim to save a total of 6kg. The tires are made by Goodyear and Citroen says they’re rated for at least 50,000 miles.
The Oli is the first Citroen to bear the new company logo, but its defining design feature is the letterbox-style vertical windscreen. The flat sheet of glass is smaller, lighter and cheaper to manufacture than a typical windshield, although it compromises the car’s aerodynamic performance. Still, Citroen suggests that the Oli would be used primarily for city driving rather than high-speed driving, where the aerodynamic limitations would be more of an issue. The windows are merely pop-outs to save weight and complexity.
Top speed is therefore capped at 68 mph, and a range of up to 249 miles could be possible. According to Citroen, topping up the battery from 20 to 80 percent takes just 23 minutes. Those numbers are believed to be from Stellantis’ STLA Small platform, which would likely underpin a vehicle like this.
Despite the relatively boxy dimensions, the Oli will return an efficiency number of around 6.2 miles per kWh, according to Citroen. For comparison, a MINI Electric travels back around 4.2 miles per kWh and a Kia Niro EV around 5 miles per kWh.
With the ability to power electrical devices via the car’s Vehicle-to-Load capability, Citroen presents the Oli as a versatile machine for outdoor adventures and comes complete with roof rails, attachment points for accessories and a pick-up-style cargo area fitted .
As with the Ami, customization for the Oli is limited to graphics packages, accent colors, and interior trim rather than primary hues. The cabin is unlikely to resemble any showroom-ready models for now, but the lightweight, minimalist theme continues. The white paint itself is also made with fewer organic materials than conventional car paint.
Similar to Adidas sneaker soles, the seats are made by BASF from a 3D-printed mesh with 80 percent fewer parts than traditional items, although they feature flexible thermoplastic mounts for added comfort. Each seat has two buckles to make manufacturing easier and cheaper while providing interchangeability.
The beam-style dash features a row of physical switches for climate control, and infotainment duties are handled by a slim dash display controlled by the user’s smartphone. Two detachable Bluetooth speakers are located on either end of the dash, and suicidal doors provide access to the rear seats, which are also made from 3D-printed parts.
Citroen CEO Vincent Cobée spoke to Auto Express at the unveiling of the Oli. “We started developing the Oli two and a half years ago. We said, okay, how do we make something that’s grounded in respect for the environment extremely powerful and electric? The basic intention [of the Oli] was desirable, capable and affordable.”
Discussing whether elements of the Oli will appear on production Citroens in the future, Cobée said: “You will see parts of it in a lot of models over time. Obviously you will see the logo and styling identity in future cars. Also the recycled materials, interior panels, exterior parts, the user interface, cockpit screens and so on.”
The Oli marks the first time we’ve seen Citroen’s new emblem on a car, and Cobée indicated when we can expect the new-look logo to be introduced. “It’s not a retro design, it reaffirms our values for the future. When it comes to retailers, launching a new brand identity takes years. The reality is, by the time you’ve managed to engage all the dealers, we’re talking maybe four years.”
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