While the Ram brand may be known as the pickup truck arm of Stellantis, one of the company’s French brands is testing the waters for the possibility of creating an all-electric modular pickup. After being revealed in Paris back in September, Citroën showcased its new electric pickup in Milan, Italy to gain feedback about its latest creation.
Working as a ‘laboratory on wheels’ Oli was designed to push the needle for family mobility by bucking industry trends for heavier, more complex, and expensive electric cars. Citroën’s new manifesto calls for adventurous, clever, and achievable ideas focused on reducing weight and complexity to maximize efficiency, versatility, and accessibility.
“Citroën Oli is our starting point towards optimistic and functional electric mobility, which meets the needs of consumers, increasingly sensitive to the problems of pollution and looking for reliable vehicles, both economically and environmentally,” stated Laurent Barria, Head of Citroën Marketing & Communication. “The new concept car will inspire elements of design and technologies that will be used in future models of the range, as well as being a source of inspiration to redesign the Citroën services offered to owners of electric vehicles, accompanying them towards the future of mobility.”
Many of the Oli’s features were designed to reduce complexity, thus saving weight, all while using recycled and recyclable materials. For example, the seats have just 8 parts compared to the 37 parts used in most SUV seats (an 80% reduction). This is done using tubular frames and 3D-printed mesh backrests.
Co-created with BASF, they are made from lightweight, 100% recyclable Thermoplastic PolyUrethane (TPU), and the material has been covered with an orange coating to ensure they look and feel inviting. The mesh backrests amplify the feeling of space and light inside the vehicle – key contributors to occupant comfort and well-being.
The entire interior also carries the same theme. The Oli’s instrument panel (I/P) and center console are made up of 34 parts compared to the average of 75 parts used in other vehicles. Its lightweight door panels, which were designed to maximize storage are 7 kg (15 lbs.) lighter thanks to removing the speakers, soundproofing, and electric wiring.
Gone is the traditional sound system and in its place are removable Bluetooth speakers with a smartphone dock, again saving another 250 kg (551 lbs.). Because the speakers are removable, sounds can be enjoyed when parked anywhere and everywhere. Hanging them on hooks on the rails in the pickup bed outside the vehicle means you can show off your latest playlist with excellent sound quality while enjoying al fresco dining or partying on the beach.
Instead of hard-to-clean carpets, Oli features a single-piece, modular floor covering made in partnership with BASF from Expanded Thermoplastic PolyUrethane (E-TPU). The foam is as elastic as rubber but lighter, extremely resilient, and highly resistant to abrasion. It can be replaced altogether if an owner prefers a new color.
The floor is also covered with a highly elastic and waterproof coating and can be easily hosed clean. Recyclable TPU “drain plugs” in the floor make it stress-free to remove sand, mud, or mulch after a hot day at the beach or a wet day trekking through the forest.
Lightweighting also goes for the exterior of the vehicle, with the roof, hood, and truck bed sides being made from recycled corrugated cardboard sandwiched between fiberglass panels. The panels only weigh about 6 kg (13 lbs.) and are capable of supporting the weight of an average adult.
Central bumper sections, like those used in Ami, are identical front and rear. Below, triangular infra-red ‘handles’ are, in fact, strong hooks that would help drivers tow another vehicle out of the mud, or pull a large stone out of the way.
Even Oli’s tough white BASF R-M Agilis® waterborne paint is eco-effective with the lowest level of volatile organic compounds (below 250g/l).
Citroën Oli is designed to be an easy-to-use lifestyle enabler. So whether visiting a furniture store to bring home flat-packed furniture, or loading paddleboards and pop-up roof tent for a weekend at the coast, all can be accommodated in its pickup bed and front trunk.
Versatility abounds and loading is easy. The tailgate folds down and with the load bed panel removed, there is up to 582 mm (23 inches) of height between the vehicle floor and the rear glass. With the panel in place, 330 mm (13 inches) of height is useful and secure, with trunk space available under the floor of the bed (similar to that of a Honda Ridgeline pickup). The removable bed panel is light and flat and made from the same recycled cardboard structure as the hood and roof panels.
Thoughtful rails on each side of the bed allow users to attach hooks or accessories, and additional storage boxes are located on the sidewalls to provide secure undercover stowage.
With a target weight of 1,000 kg (2,204 lbs.), the lightweight Oil has an estimated range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) thanks to a 40 kWh battery pack. According to Citroën, the battery can charge from 20% to 80% in 23 minutes and can support vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-load capabilities. To help get that range, Citroën also limits the performance of the Oli with a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). So it’s best to say, the Oli isn’t designed for America’s busy highways.
While the Oli might not be the prettiest thing, it blends the likes of the Tesla Cybertruck and Honda Element into a Jeep® Renegade-sized pickup truck. While it would probably be toned down for production, a small modular electric pickup based on the STLA Medium architecture would be a huge hit for the European region.
I guess we will have to wait and see if Stellantis and Citroën will green-light the Oli for production.