What's the best electric vehicle for nipping around town?
Citroen's tiny new electric quadricycle is the ideal urban runabout, if you can stand its quirks
There exists in France a strange phenomenon known as the voiture sans permis, or licence free car. These odd little things aren’t allowed to weigh more than 425kg, can only have two seats, are limited to 50cc if they have a petrol engine or a 6kW power output in the case of an electric or diesel version.
They can be driven by 14-year-olds on a moped-style licence, but are more likely to be treated by the elderly as a slightly racier version of a mobility scooter.
Renault created a wheezy little model of its Twizy EV for this weirdly specific market, while Citroen has gone one better and created an entire car for imaginary hordes of style conscious teenagers who don’t mind getting beaten up for driving a roller skate to school. The Ami – a friend for those who don’t have any.
The car was released to rapturous applause across the globe (probably) for its no-nonsense, no frills styling (like a particularly fluffy shih tzu you can’t tell which is the front and which is the back) and pared back automotive experience.
It briefly looked like the Citroen Ami wouldn’t be sold in the UK, but the company saw sense and announced that it would be bringing the car across to Blighty early in 2022. Will anyone buy it? Who knows, but it’s nice to know that you can. A cargo version is also on the way, with room for at least several parcels.
For a very tiny subset of city dwelling hipsters a car like the Ami is perfect for dashing around town and picking up fresh seasonal veg from the farmers’ market, or grabbing a carton of potato milk when you run out. The Ami – slightly quicker than walking and drier than cycling.
Ideally something like this would be quick enough for you to zip by and no one would recognise you, but unfortunately the Ami is limited to a 28mph top speed. It's only got a tiny little 6kW motor, see, which produces a mighty 8bhp. Sounds great, until you work out that an actual horse bizarrely produces 15bhp. Making the Ami equivalent to half a horse and about as slow as one. Still, you could always wear a balaclava while you’re behind the wheel.
Likewise, the 43-mile range could be a bit of a strain, but stick to the city environment and you’d never be too far from a plug – and the 5.5kWh battery will charge in three hours from a standard household plug socket.
The price has yet to be confirmed for the UK, but based on the French version we can expect it to be around £6k, with the option to finance the car and pay just £20 a month with a £3,000 deposit. What a time to be alive.
Best electric car for the city – Citroen Ami
Range: 43 miles
Engine: 6kW electric motor
Battery: 5.5kWh lithium ion
Top speed: 28mph
Boot space: Best not to ask
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