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What the Ami One Means for the Future of Cities

Looks like a car, feels like a car, drives like a car- so it must be a car, right? Wrong.



March 14, 2019

French automobile manufacturer, Citroën, is celebrating its centennial this year by resituating their relevance in today’s multimodal world. Their new concept, Ami One, is designed as an alternative to shared bikes, scooters and cars.

While the Ami One was the star of Citroën’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show last week, the company wants you to know that this isn’t a car at all. The product looks, feels, and drives like a car, but Citroën makes clear the distinction that the Ami One is instead an urban mobility object.

What separates a “mobility object” from a vehicle? For start, many European users will not need a license to operate it. The Ami One is classified as a low-speed vehicle, which many countries in Europe allow you to operate without a license.

The Ami One is fully electric and can travel for 100 kilometres before needing to charge. As far as sizing goes, The Ami One is quite small but offers enough space for two passengers and storage. And because it’s fully electric and compact, it produces zero carbon emissions, drives smoothly and quietly down the street.

Rather than converting car beloveds to the Ami One, Citroën aims to compete with current mobility sharing programs and public transit for short trips around the city. It’s not yet clear what rules the Ami One will abide by, and if they’ll be confined to the road or permitted on bike lanes- though they’re a tad too large for typical bike lanes in North America.

As our cities become increasingly multimodal, roadway designation is becoming more and more ambiguous. In Amsterdam, electric scooters face scorn from both bikers and drivers as they’re too slow for the road and too fast for the bike path. The rise of scooter-sharing in North America has also brought these questions to the forefront, leaving cities in disagreement over where scooters are allowed to ride.

The Ami One is merely a prototype at the movement, but it’s certainly one worth paying attention to and thinking critically about the questions it poses: What is the role of the car in the city of tomorrow? Will personal ownership be a thing of the past? How much of a role will smartphones play in the mobility game? Should we reconsider the rules of the road?

While we don’t have the answers to these quite yet, forward-thinking concepts like Ami One are pushing us in the right direction to design the cities- and streets- of tomorrow.

Lead image from Citroën.

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