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CitroŽn Oli concept unveiled. Image by Citroen.

CitroŽn Oli concept unveiled
CitroŽn Oli concept aims to bring some sanity back to the family car of the future.
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What's all this about?

This is the CitroŽn Oli and itís CitroŽnís vision for a lighter, tougher, more rational electric family car. In a world where the average size of cars has expanded massively since the seventies and electric vehicles regularly clock in at more than two and a half tonnes, the Oli aims to provide a glimpse of an alternative ó of a family car thatís far more efficient and which looks to spartan classics such as CitroŽnís own 2CV as its inspiration.

How efficient?

CitroŽn says it is aiming for an energy efficiency of 6.2 miles per kilowatt hour which should mean that the Oli can get around 250 miles out of its 40kWh battery. Thereís a law of diminishing returns when it comes to batteries: the bigger the battery is, the heavier the car, the bigger the battery required to deliver an acceptable range, so a smaller battery is one thing in keeping with the Oliís drive for efficiency.

What are the others?

For starters, the fact that panels such as the bonnet, roof and rear panels and are made from recycled corrugated cardboard formed into a honeycomb sandwich structure between fibreglass reinforcing sheets. Theyíre strengthened and waterproofed by a polyurethane-based resin created by chemical giant BASF, and, although some 50 per cent lighter than if they were made from steel, they can still support the weight of an adult.

Why would they want to do that?

So those adults have a convenient platform to prune trees or clean windows, of course. So says CitroŽn anyway.

How else has this simplicity been achieved?

There arenít many curved lines on the Oli, which would theoretically make it easier and cheaper to stamp the panels if the Oli ever went into production. The windscreen is vertical too which means it uses less glass and allows less heat into the cabin which, in turn, means the air conditioning needs to do less work.

Wait, a vertical windscreen? Isn't that a bit... bluff?

Yes, itís hardly the most aerodynamic, but CitroŽn says that it mostly sees the Oli and the future vehicles it inspires puttering around urban and suburban areas, rather than cruising at high speeds on motorways, which is why the top speed has been limited to 68mph. Slippery aerodynamics, CitroŽn says, donít matter quite so much at those speeds. Going back to the minimalism for a second, although the exterior is very rational, the interior is even more so.


The dashboard uses 34 parts as opposed to around 75 in the average small hatchback and, instead of myriad controls and a large touchscreen, there are just a handful of buttons for the air-conditioning and a slot for a smartphone (as in the Dacia Jogger), which does the job of an infotainment system instead. Only eight parts make up each seat (as opposed to around 37 normally), which seem to draw their inspiration from the hammocks found in the 2CV by mounting a comfortable base cushion on two tubular frames and a back-rest made from a mesh material.

What's with the rear end?

Thatís one of the cleverest bits of the Oli. Thanks to its arrangement of folding tailgate and a removable load bed panel, the rear can essentially convert into a pickup bed for transporting large loads.

How big is the Oli anyway?

The Oli is 4.20m long, 1.65m high and 1.90m wide, making it around the same size as a small family crossover. Itís not especially small by any means, but contrast that with the dimensions of the average family car from the seventies ó 3.7 m long, 1.6m wide and weighing just 800kg ó and you get an idea of the kind of bloat CitroŽn is trying to highlight.

Any production plans?

Tragically not. The Oli is more of a rolling lab for CitroŽnís engineers to workshop ideas for more efficient, cheaper-to-build cars of the future, and the company says that itís unlikely that most of the ideas expressed by the Oli will ever come together in production-car form.

David Mullen - 29 Sep 2022

2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.

2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen Oli concept car. Image by Citroen.    - Citroen road tests
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