Citroën Ami: the promise of a car without a license at a low price?
In rural and peri-urban areas poorly served by public transport, parents quickly tire of serving as drivers for their offspring. So they end up giving in to scooter blackmail, despite their fear of accidents. Only alternative? Pay the price of a car without a license, much safer than a two-wheeler. At 9,499 euros from the French Aixam, Europe’s leading manufacturer, the cheapest of these two-seater carts is only 1,700 euros less than the most accessible “real car” of the moment, the Fiat Panda. “So inevitably when the Citroën Ami landed in the spring of 2020 with its price of 6,900 euros (ecological bonus of 900 euros not deducted), the success was immediate”, says Jean-Michel Martins, who distributes carts in Coignières (Yvelines).
Between 2012 and 2019, an average of 12,000 carts were registered per year in France. In six months, the market has risen to 15,000 units in 2020, driven by the Citroën Ami alone. Then to 22,000 in 2022, including 5,951 registrations for Citroën, which claims a 30% market share at the end of the first quarter of 2022. Inflation obliges, the base price today amounts to 7,390 euros. But once the bonus has been deducted, the Friend returns to 6,490 euros. It is even possible to pay only 3,100 euros by choosing long-term rental: the Friend is then offered to you for 48 months for a monthly payment of 19.99 euros.
The promise of a controlled budget, for reassured parents. Historical brands cannot align, with production costs burdened by lower series. Above all, their models embed a luxury of refinements which the Citroën dispenses with, stripped to the extreme. Heating, radio, electric window and airbag are simply unavailable on the Ami. And yet, despite its price, it steals few customers from conventional carts, whose sales have doubled since 2017 in Europe.
“These diesel models meet a need that cannot be satisfied by the electric Friend with its 70 kilometers of autonomy”, explains Jean-Michel Martins, some buyers of whom can travel 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers per year. To each his own clientele. With an average transaction price of 12,500 euros, the Aixam, Ligier, Chatenet and Bellier continue to attract “isolated retirees and working people without permits”.