We saw the Citroën Oli in all its seams: much more than an empty shell – Numerama, Citroën Oli: the compact minimalist, light and cheap SUV – Challenges

Citroën Oli: the minimalist and light electric compact SUV, less than 25.Euros

The exercise of style aims above all to demonstrate that one can still produce light vehicles, even if they are electric. We are talking here of a vehicle not really bigger than a small urban SUV (4.23 m), which is a ton on the scale and with a 40 kWh battery for 400 km of autonomy. The hunt for superfluous kilograms and work on new materials such as the hood and the roof based on extruded cardboard are particularly interesting. Not necessarily so that we can climb on the vehicle, as the concept proposes, but to lighten certain body parts, without necessarily having to use carbon, often produced at excessive prices, which does not correspond at all to Citroën’s philosophy.

We saw the Citroën Oli in all its seams: much more than an empty shell

Citroën Oli concept with its vertical windshield // Source: Raphaelle Baut

One thing is certain, the Citroën Oli concept does not go unnoticed with its design. We were able to approach it at the Rétomobile lounge, which made it possible to discover that this project is not just an empty shell to be talked about.

If you have the opportunity to go to the Rétromobile lounge, the lounge dedicated to vintage cars which takes place until February 5 in Paris Porte de Versailles, do not hesitate to go through the stand of Citroën. You will see some beautiful old ones, the C10 prototype which looks like a flying saucer on wheel, but also the concept car Oli, which the brand unveiled in September 2022, a few days before the Paris Motor Show.

So this is an opportunity to see this strange electric vehicle imagined by Citroën teams more closely.

Citroën oli concept and prototype C10 // Source: Raphaelle Baut

Citroën Oli is much less gadget than one could imagine

Manufacturers like to present concept cars. This is an opportunity for brands to give clues to what they prepare for the future. These vehicles are sometimes very realistic, quite close to the final prototype, while others are very exuberant. Citroën Oli can be classified in this second category. However, if it is unlikely that we find in the years to come a model marketed in these exact features, Citroën proved us with Citroën Friend and friend Buggy, that they were able to assume originality.

Citroën Oli: Mi SUV Mi Pickup // Source: Raphaelle Baut

Citroën Oli is a rolling concept car, some may have even had the chance to meet him in his few outings in the Parisian streets. What struck us when we have observed this concept Oli in detail is that it is much more successful than we can imagine.

The Oli concept experiences new materials and a new way of rethinking the interior, to create a lot of space. The interior is reminiscent of the spirit of that of the Citroën friend by its sleek aspect and reduced to the essentials, but in much more comfortable.

Interior of the Citroën Oli // Source concept: Raphaelle Baut

The number of pieces, often identical, and the simplicity of their design are as in the same spirit as IMI. The common point behind these two projects is to offer a particularly affordable vehicle, around € 20,000 according to the specifications of the OLI project.

Citroën Oli concept with its vertical windshield // Source: Raphaelle Baut

You might think that the Citroën Oli was only a bad badly dressed up, but it is much more subtle and better finished than it seems. Oli is not just a product to be talked about, there are many elements, in design and in materials, which could be used in one or more models to come.

Front lights of the oli // source concept: Raphaelle Baut

Weight more than aerodynamics to lower consumption

The little aerodynamic line of this electrical concept has been a lot. Indeed, it may seem like a nonsense to make such a square vehicle, with a vertical windshield, and then to promise interesting autonomies.

Pierre Leclercq explaining the choices of materials from the oli installed on the roof // Source: Raphaelle Baut

The exercise of style aims above all to demonstrate that one can still produce light vehicles, even if they are electric. We are talking here of a vehicle not really bigger than a small urban SUV (4.23 m), which is a ton on the scale and with a 40 kWh battery for 400 km of autonomy. The hunt for superfluous kilograms and work on new materials such as the hood and the roof based on extruded cardboard are particularly interesting. Not necessarily so that we can climb on the vehicle, as the concept proposes, but to lighten certain body parts, without necessarily having to use carbon, often produced at excessive prices, which does not correspond at all to Citroën’s philosophy.

Hood and roof have this new materials designed from cardboard // Source: Raphaelle Baut

Image success for Citroën

The presentation of Citroën Oli almost overshadowed other new products from the Stellantis group. Oli has really created the surprise, as Citroën had done a few years back. Will this be enough for the concept to go further, until you find a future in the range of the French manufacturer ? Nothing is less sure. It will take 3 years to know if the concept will be available to something a little more consensual, to be adopted en masse by the public and customers.

The new logo should be on future Citroën // Source models: Raphaelle Baut

Pierre Leclercq, director of design, remains confident. Oli corresponds to Citroën’s projects to make an affordable, efficient, light electric vehicle that meets the challenges of sustainable development. We could see the first elements of design taken from Citroën Oli on the future models unveiled at the end of the year by the brand.

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Citroën Oli: the minimalist and light electric compact SUV, less than 25.Euros

Simple, practical, easy to make, light with materials from recycling themselves, this oli concept inaugurates ideas that should be reusable in series at “50-70%”. It is intended to be durable, which can be reconditioned over its successive owners.

Citroën Oli

“An electric vehicle for the affordable family, less than 25.Euros.”This is how Vincent Cobée, director of Citroën, sums up the concept Oli (Prononcez All-E for electric), unveiled this Thursday, September 29. But this prototype of square machine measuring 4.20 meters long (barely more than a small C3 Aircross SUV), high on legs (1.65) with its false 4×4 tunes cut to the serpe, is not that. It inaugurates a new vision of the frugal, functional, modular, light, easy to make with recycled materials! Simple concept? As is, yes! But “50 to 70% of the ideas of this vehicle can be put on the road in the three to five years”, summed up Vincent Cobée in a pre-presentation to a few journalists at the DNA Technical Center in Vélizy (Yvelines).

Weird at will, this oli presents itself in a form … perfectly geometric. We had to dare. “All the key elements of Oli design are horizontal or vertical. This is something we wanted to experiment, “says the design director of the brand Pierre Leclercq. The windshield itself is vertical as on an old jeep. Simplicity and minimalism oblige. The reason? The smaller the windshield, the less expensive it is to produce or replace, the more it reduces the exposure of occupants to the sun and therefore the need for air conditioning! According to the brand, this would reduce battery consumption by 17%. Depending on the example of friendly micro-electric, the front doors are also identical on each side, although mounted differently. The reduction in complexity allows, according to the brand of the Stellantis group, to save 20% of the weight per door compared to a standard family model today. Oli doors include half less components.

Citroën Oli Credit: Citroën

Recycled materials

But it is also a question of using recycled materials. “The hood, the pavilion and the trunk bucket are in alveolar recycled cardboard between two fiberglass panels, all covered with resin,” adds Pierre Sabas, head of advanced design of the brand with chevrons. An innovation carried out with the German specialist Basf. The French family plasterboard Plastic Omnium has created 100% recyclable polypropylene bumpers containing 50% of materials themselves recycled. As for “tires, they come from natural oils, ash of rice”, assures Pierre Sabas. The manufacturer Goodyear even set the goal of a lifespan of 500.000 kilometers thanks to a reusable carcass and the thickness of 11 millimeters of its rolling strip which can be recashed twice during the life of the tire.

Inside, where orange dominates to give cheerfulness, the same originality is. Instead of a complete dashboard with multiple screens, the Oli has a single tube -shaped bar which extends over the entire width of the vehicle, on which are integrated, on the one hand, the steering column and steering wheel, and in the center a smartphone base and five buttons for the air conditioning system. Thus, the Oli dashboard has only 34 rooms, says the manufacturer, while the dashboard and the central console of a compact comparable family sedan usually counts about 75. The front seats also require almost 80% less parts compared to those of an equivalent SUV (8 instead of 37). These seats are in fact made up of a tubular frame on which is assembled a cushion covered with textiles in 100% recycled polyester, imagined there too with Basf. And modularity is to put. With its trunk located under the bucket, the Citroën Oli can quickly turn into… pick-up.

Citroën Oli Credit: Citroën

Only 110 km/h

The vehicle in the end does not weigh more than a ton, a low weight, that of a Citadine C3 petrol today. The planned powertrain planned is obviously electrical and requires only 40 kWh battery for target autonomy up to 400 km. But the speed is limited to 110 km/h. This will appeal to anti-car! “Oli is a way of saying: ‘! I want something innovative, but simple, affordable, responsible and sustainable ‘, “enthuses Laurence Hansen, director of the product and the Citroën strategy. “We must reverse trends by offering lighter, less expensive vehicles and imagine innovative solutions to upgrade them and resell them to several successive customers,” adds Vincent Cobée. This oli was designed in principle for better sustainability, so that it can be usable by several owners, lengthening its active life cycle.

Key word: facilitate repair, restoration, modernization and even personalization, so that it can be sold “as new” with several successive owners, more than today, or even be kept within the same family over several generations. The idea is not only to sell this oli, but also to offer this vehicle for long -term rental “for example four years at 400 euros per month. Then, we will recondition it and repropos it for rental at 300 euros, with a decreasing price for each new user. The model can be planned for sixteen years of life with four successive tenants, before being completely recycled, “explains the firm director. This is certainly not the first time that Citroën has been trying to promote a simple and practical car, from the 2CV. There was thus the FAF derived from 2CV for emerging countries, produced at a small number of copies between 1973 and 1979. The minimalist car was then imagined by the brand in the form of the C-Cactus concept in 2007. But this one has … never seen the light of day.

Renault also launches its minimalist model, the Dacia Manifesto

It is now a new trend in fashion, at least in France. To lower in particular the crippling additional cost of electricity. And this, faced with the huge behemoths, heavy and dear to German production! Dacia, Romanian brand of Renault, presented the Manifesto. This stripped mini-end, which recalls the famous Californian Buggies of the 1970s, is also there that a “concept prefiguring any series models”, insists David Durand, manager of the design of the Renault subsidiary. Presented to the French press at the Bourget Exhibition Center on September 13, this vehicle is however a manifesto, as its name suggests, trends in the firm at low prices. Like the Citroën Oli, but in reduced dimensions, this Dacia concept wants to “illustrate the essential side (without superfluous), robust, passout and more eco-conceived of our vehicles”, insists David Durand. Dacia’s design manager adds: “We favored a simple design, like that of the Fiat Panda of 1980”, which had then surprised the automotive world by its functional, practical side, devoid of frozen, and … all paths in its version 4×4 which made it a mini-shorter. A revolutionary design at the time signed by the famous Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Dacia Manifesto Concept (Mondial 2022) - 2 Credit: Image © Dacia

The obvious proximity of certain ideas between Oli and Manifesto would not be fortuitous. At the design at Stellantis, we openly accuse Renault of having stolen some ideas in Citroën, the Oli being ready for more than eight months, even if it is only presented. The Renault group would have taken advantage of the transfer of a Stellantis defector designer, who would have arrived with his boxes ..

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