We’re only halfway through December, but Citroën is already looking forward to T-shirts and warmer temperatures. It unveiled a concept named My Ami Buggy that gives the tiny, city-only electric Ami a more rugged-looking design while bringing the beach car spirit of the 1960s into the 21st century.
Most of the changes made to the Ami are design-related. Up front, it gains grilles over the lights and a brush guard, additions that are loosely inspired by the Méhari 4×4 built in limited numbers between 1979 and 1983. There’s an LED light bar and a spare tire on the roof, protective grilles over the rear lights and fender flares that allowed the company to mount wider wheels. Black trim adds a touch of outdoorsy flair.
Stepping into the two-seat cabin no longer requires opening a door; they’ve been sent back to the parts bin, though Citroën planned curtain-like pieces of canvas in case the My Ami Buggy gets trapped in a rain storm. Once inside, the driver sits on a cushion with more padding and faces a steering wheel with a storage pouch, a small digital instrument cluster and a built-in smartphone cradle. Some of these accessories were developed specifically for the concept and made with a 3D printer, so they could be made available to the public.
All told, the My Ami Buggy sounds ready to hit the beach — assuming you live relatively close to one. Citroën made no mention of drivetrain modifications, and the regular-production Ami (which is about a foot shorter than a Smart ForTwo) is powered by an 8-horsepower motor that draws electricity from a 5.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It has a top speed of about 30 mph and a maximum driving range of around 43 miles. As a trade-off, it’s not considered a car by French law, so anyone can drive it without a license as long as they’re over 14.
We don’t know what the future holds for the My Ami Buggy. No plans to build the concept have been announced, but Citroën has shown it’s willing to expand the Ami range by taking the basic platform in different directions; it introduced a cargo-carrying variant in 2021. The regular Ami is coming to the United States, too: it will reportedly head to the nation’s capital to join a car-sharing program called Free2Move.
In the Méhari’s footprint
Citroën has experimented with ways to make a Méhari for the 21st century several times over the past two decades. Its most credible attempt was the C3 Pluriel (shown above), which was related to the first-generation C3 hatchback and fitted with removable roof pillars. About 110,000 units were built between 2003 and 2010; it wasn’t a hit and it retired without a direct successor.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the Paris-based firm gave us the Cactus M concept, which received an enthusiastic welcome from the public and the press at the Frankfurt auto show and looked nearly ready for production. What we saw on the show floor wasn’t what we got in showrooms, however. Citroën transformed the Cactus M into the e-Mehari, which straddled the space separating cars and golf carts and landed with a base price of 25,000 euros (nearly $28,500) excluding the cost of leasing the electric drivetrain’s batteries. This stunningly high price tag made it immune to success, and it retired in 2019 after a small handful were built (228 examples reportedly found a home in 2018).