The Citroen Oli concept has made a big impression on the car world. Rather than being some high-tech two-tonne gadget-fest, Citroen says the Oli’s manifesto is ‘less is more’ with a focus on simplicity and lightness to achieve sustainability. The quirky French brand decided to make the car – which isn’t directly previewing a production model – out of unconventional materials. Most striking is the use of recycled corrugated cardboard sandwiched in a honeycomb shape between fibreglass panels to keep weight down and improve efficiency while still being strong enough.
The Oli is definitely… interesting to look at – we weren’t sure whether it was coming or going when we first saw it, but the most unconventional silhouettes in the brand’s history have gone on to become their most iconic. Take, for example, the Citroen 2CV, DS and even the latest Ami – these are cars that look unlike anything else on the roads to this day, and have made their places in automotive history.
For that reason, rather than using ‘dynamic lines’ in its design, Citroen decided to go against the grain and use vertical and horizontal lines for the Oli, giving it that flat windscreen and flat ‘pick-up bed’ – the French carmaker is proud to point out it’s done something ‘other vehicle makers wouldn’t dare to do’. Citroen says there’s also a practical reason for the vertical windscreen – it uses the least amount of material possible, given that a vertical windscreen has the shortest distance from top to bottom.
There are other novel ways the carmaker has worked to improve the Oli’s recyclability. The simple seats are made of a mesh that allows for more natural light throughout the car and are made of 80% less parts than a traditional seat.
Removable Bluetooth speakers are also in place instead of a built in sound system, which has us wondering why it’s never been done before. These weigh much less than a built-in setup and can be taken with you when you want to listen to music outside the car – simple, but genius!
The Oli’s 40kWh battery is capable of an impressive-for-the-size 248 miles between charges, thanks to its lightweight setup. Charging from 20% to 80% will take around 23 minutes. Its top speed is limited to 68mph in the name of efficiency, though, so don’t expect a thrilling drive – although having just cardboard and fibreglass between you and the outside might raise your adrenaline…
It sits on wheels that Citroen says are made of a blend of aluminium and steel, to keep weight down. Citroen has worked with Goodyear to develop a sustainable tyre, too, which is said to be good for 50,000 miles. It’s made of sunflower oils, rice husk, pine tree resins and natural rubber to replace the synthetic petroleum-based rubber compounds used in common tyres.
The Citroen Oli is also the first car to wear Citroen’s new logo. It harks back to Citroen’s original logo from 1919, and is another way the brand is looking back to look forward. As Citroen CEO Vincent Cobee points out, cars have become much heavier and complex over the years due to safety and legal requirements, but perhaps the answer is to look at simplifying cars for the future in a way that strikes a better balance between sustainability, safety and utility.