Think of the original 1950-1980s MEHARI Citroen like a French Volkswagen Thing. Mostly open bodywork in corrugated panels increase the monocoque strength dramatically, allowing both cars to haul much more than their car-shaped siblings.
Some of the first continental pickup trucks, if you will.
The 2016 model shares some of the silly and playful beach spirit of the original MEHARI, but with more focus on stressfree driving than do-it-all utility.
The E-MEHARI is not a concept, and is headed for sale in France in Spring 2016. It is a full EV with (we believe) front-drive for its advanced lithium metal polymer batteries. These are solid-state power cells versus the nickel-metal-hydride or lithium-ion batteries typically serving in the Prius or Tesla Model S, respectively. The new-tech solid LMP batteries were developed in partnership with Bollore Group in France, and may be the world’s first production application of the technology. Safety benefits and climate resistence are the key improvements over other battery tech — which is rapidly sapped by extreme hot or any cold weather.
The E-MEHARI is still mostly a town car, despite its advanced powertrain being totally silent and delivering about 120-miles of city range. The top speed of the E-MEHARI is around 75-mph — just enough to keep with motorway traffic on the way to the south coast from Paris!
And that is a trip E-MEHARI buyers will love, even if only in spirit. The car is all about quirky people who want to stand out with concept-like looks, but green credentials to the core. Seating four makes the E-MEHARI far more practical than EVs like the Renault Twizzy, but also much more stylish than any Nissan Leaf. Cough.
Granted, major practical elements of normal cars have been tossed out for the E-MEHARI’s fun-loving mission as a low-volume halo model for Citroen EV tech. Things like glass windows, for example, are chucked in favor of a wrap-around soft-top and vinyl weather protection. Minimal doors and an ultra-low beltline (for a quasi-SUV especially) mean the E-MEHARI will be a great place to see and be seen in tiny bikinis throughout the Riviera.
We can’t help but wonder who will purchase the E-MEHARI — especially with a price likely to double that of a base C1 supermini.
Twice the price but half the car? That IS fun!
We’d ballpark an 18k Euro price for the E-MEHARI, before any tax credits or discounts from EdF, the national electric grid company. Future sales in markets like Italy or even EV-mad (but very chilly) Denmark may be in the cards after the initial French market launch. The UK seems like a natural place for a few E-MEHARIs as well — particularly in C-charge cities.
2016 Citroen E-MEHARI
2016 Citroen E-MEHARI
The E-MEHARI is a vehicle connected to the history of the brand but with its sights set squarely on the future. It is a wink to an iconic vehicle, the 1968 Méhari, but also far more than that: it is a cheery, all-electric 4-seater cabriolet with modern, fun styling. Through this new stage of its partnership with the Bolloré Group, CITROËN is confirming its ambition to bring to market cheery, optimistic vehicles that are different from the rest.
Stylish, confident, offbeat, and even sassy….. we could use so many words to describe the new model by CITROËN. The E-MEHARI is a bold, vibrant vehicle, very much in tune with the CITROËN spirit. The E-MEHARI is an “it car”, designed to appeal to customers looking for an alternative vehicle with a positive outlook on life, attentive to trends and to the environment.
Incomparable, silent and stress-free, the E-MEHARI stands apart as a free spirit in the automotive market!
A UNIQUE PERSONALITY
The exterior design of E-MEHARI reflects CITROËN’s positioning. All the brand styling cues are visible, including:
• an expressive gaze with dual headlights, the signature of the CITROËN brand;
• a unique, optimistic design featuring full, warm contours, smooth lines and a smiling front end;
• clean styling, symbolising true, simple pleasures, another way of talking about driveability.
This charismatic personality is accompanied by radical choices in colour. The E-MEHARI offers a wide range of possibilities for personalisation with:
– four body colours: blue, as an invitation to get away from it all, orange to convey a sense of energy and optimism, an invigorating yellow and an elegant beige.
– two roof colours: black and orange-red.
– Two interior trim colours: a natural-looking beige and a high-tech orange-red with a central pattern inspired by water sports. Both are made of plastic-coated fabric and are completely waterproof. This makes the wildest associations possible for all those looking for a colourful, expressive and fun car.
The E-MEHARI features a raised body, with touches of black provided by the wing extenders, lower valance and bumper. A clear nod to the world of leisure and fun.
As a result, the E-MEHARI is a vehicle of fresh, expressive styling that will appeal to buyers looking for a distinctive, attractive car.
AN ORIGINAL MINDSET
The mindset of E-MEHARI reflects that of an iconic CITROËN vehicle, the Méhari, through its looks and character as well as its practical, leisure-oriented side. Like the Méhari, launched in 1968, the E-MEHARI is:
– convertible, with a removable top closed at the side by a foldaway system with large windows. Users can cover the front, the rear, the side or the whole vehicle;
– fitted with four real seats, including a folding rear bench ;
– equipped with a raised chassis for all-terrain driving;
– made with bodywork of thermoformed plastic: a material that is corrosion-free, with maintenance-free paintwork and the elasticity to withstand minor impacts;
– easy to use: it can be hosed all over, both inside and out.
The ribbed door pattern is a nod to the designers of the original Méhari and the undulating lines of the bodywork. Similarly, the exterior colours reflect those present on the launch of the Méhari.
This link with the Méhari, a legendary vehicle that left its mark on its times, gives the E-MEHARI a strong identity. Its distinctive approach will appeal all those looking for authenticity and fun.
A LIBERATING DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Although the E-MEHARI is a vehicle of simple, relaxed design, it nevertheless features advanced technology. It is an all-electric vehicle with battery technology based on the expertise of France’s Bolloré Group. With its LMP® (Lithium Metal Polymer) batteries, the E-MEHARI combines a long range with performance, reliability and security.
LMP batteries are recognised for their energy density and safety in use. They are dry batteries (it means “fully solid”) giving them many advantages such as not being weather-sensitive. They give the E-MEHARI a top speed of 110 kph with a range of 200 km in the city.
These functional batteries can be fully recharged in eight hours on a 16A socket (domestic station or public stations such as Autolib in France), or in 13 hours on a 10A domestic socket.
As a result, the E-MEHARI conveys a new sense of freedom and relaxation, allying the joys of open-top driving with the acceleration, ease, and silence of an electric vehicle.
Built at the PSA PEUGEOT CITROËN plant in Rennes, the E-MEHARI will launch in France in spring 2016.
The e-Méhari will be showcased in Paris as world premiere from December 9th to 11th, within the Eco Driving Center in the framework of the COP 21, at the PSA Peugeot Citroën’s headquarter.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.