We spoke with Pierre Leclercq: “our Citroën Oli is not only style. It is French Design.”  

On the Brussels Salon, Citroën showed its already iconic Oli prototype, a harbinger of things to come in the Citroëns which will be in the showrooms already this and next year. Reason enough for your servant to have a talk with its head of design, Pierre Leclercq, about the design philosophy of the progressive brand with the “double chevron”, and so much more…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

I started this interview asking indeed about this new design philosophy of the brand, striving towards simplicity, practicality, lightness, durability and sustainability in a very bold and original package.

PL: “With the Oli, there are two things. First there is the brand identity, as we show with the Oli styling elements which we will bring to the market as soon as this year. The front end, the new logo, the head- and rear lamps, also the coherence between the front and rear end. The latter is a very important element in our brand identity. (We have seen this already in the Ami – editor’s note).

The form language, the simplicity of the edges and the curves will also be seen on our future production cars, but then also the contrasting vertical elements will be present. Our designers will deviate here from the strictly automotive styling which you see in the other brands of the group, we have a non-automotive touch which will be a distinctive element in our future styling.

The magic goals of French Design…

The second fact is that the Oli is not just a styling exercise. It is not only style. It is really French Design. We work together with our engineers to reduce weight, the cost, we are striving for intuitive and simple solutions.

For instance the seats. It’s very important, we work with a whole team to get a seat which is very distinctive, which we can put into production. We discovered with the Oli that our clients are ready for these things. We see that our clients are ready to take bold steps together with us, because we have an image that we will bring something more on the road than just a nice looking car.

HKtB: This translates also into the choice of the materials, the dialogue with the suppliers about the substance and texture of the elements and their surfaces, their unique touch and feel, the atmosphere and character this gives to the car…

PL: We will be a zero carbon company in 2038, and this has a huge impact on materials. Not so long ago, the choice of the materials came very late in the process of building a car. The exterior and interior, the colors, it was seen as pure decoration. Here and there, one started to use recycled materials for some items, but that was it. This process is now completely turned around at Citroën. We now ask first to tell us which materials we can use, as we want recycled materials, unpainted, and we will go from there and adopt them. This is most interesting. And I think that our clients are also ready for this.

HKtB: These elements and this approach we also see in the Ami. The French, as even Mr. Tavares recently put it, love their individual mobility. The Ami is fit for the (mega)city… will there be other models geared for a new City Mobility in the spirit of the Oli?

We always search for new solutions…

PL:  We have many projects running now. It’s a bit like a funnel. When there is one project hitting the road, we have already other proposals in the pipeline. We are always searching for new solutions. If you remember, two years ago, we showed a rather disruptive project of robotized platforms, which is an intelligent use of the present day autonomous technology, in controlled urban areas. But I imagine perfectly in 2030 and 2035 that these solutions will be used in our cities. The design will then focus on the interior of the cabins and structures rolling on these platforms, a very interesting evolution.

The Ami represented a big risk for us, indeed, we thought about the city, but in fact, we scrutinized the clients who bought the Ami, age, location, etc, and we noticed that the Ami is not only used in the cities. We have clients who buy the Ami for their children and grandchildren, remember that in France you can drive an Ami at the age of 14, and it is better than a scooter. And in a market where these vehicles cost between 12 and 15.000 Euros, ours is available for 6.000 Euros… No small feat, as we respect the profitability margins of our group! It is now on the market for two years, and it has grown more into a lifestyle than a car. This is also what the 2 CV has achieved. It is not easy to create the same phenomenon in this day and age…

HKtB: Can you tell a bit more about your Ami buyers?

We have also many clients who buy an Ami for their holiday homes. And as I said, of course grandparents who buy the Ami for their grandchildren. There are also clients who own a Ferrari and buy an Ami for their third or fourth car…

HKtB: We talked earlier in Paris about your open mindedness towards other designers, in other sectors, who could become involved in offering elements of the car during its life, for example, that in a further future one could offer replacement seats for Oli’s or Citroëns who after years of intensive use get a bit long in the teeth… or, rather, offer parts and items to customize the new Citroëns…

PL: It’s a philosophy I love very much. People more and more want an object which is really theirs. Design is not a luxury anymore. If you go for an Ikea kitchen, you can still choose the finish, styling and colors you want, to make it yours. This is now also true for cars. We have started this with the Ami.

HKtB: It is also true for Jeep. Mopar offers a wide array of accessories.

PL: Indeed, this trend is already more prominent in the States. But with the Ami we started off in Europe with the same trend. Not that we offer many accessories, but we created a desire with the customer to customize his car. It’s like Apple. They don’t offer many accessories themselves, but are produced by Belkin etc. It is a very interesting path for our cars in the future. This will give us for instance incredible interiors. I want the client to appropriate our geometries. Why not share our geometries on the internet Open Space and invite the developers to have fun with it?

Every brand has its own design team to embody its proper DNA

HKtB: What is your relationship or rather dialogue between your styling department and the suppliers? Do they come present you what is possible, or after having established a manifest for yourselves what you want to do in styling in the next five years, let’s say, you ask them to come up with new materials, possibilities?

PL: The dialogue goes both ways. But I want to stress here that the design has become very important. The suppliers are specialized in offering technology, for instance for the platforms we have conceived within the group, but over the last 30 years, what have we done? Instead of asking PininFarina or Bertone to style all the cars in the world, we have all established our design centers which carry truly our DNA, and every brand has its own equipe or team of designers. This is génial, because we have cars within the group which don’t resemble each other at all…

HKtB: With the new materials comes also repair friendliness, durability…

PL: Indeed, we want our cars to have a longer lifespan, and we will refresh them within our network. We need of course more control as nowadays we don’t see the car anymore after it has been produced. We have to control the recyclability of the car. Otherwise it’s no use to build the car with recyclable materials.

HKtB: It think it is necessary to tell the client that his car now has a long life and that you as the manufacturer will follow the car throughout its life.

PL: Indeed, a lifelong car, staying with you the rest of your life.

HKtB: Indeed, that as a brand policy you commit yourself to the clients that your Citroën model, Type A, B, or whatever, that you will always follow this car for decades to come…

PL: Ca serait génial, that would be a stroke of genius. It is our goal. It would be very interesting and it would completely change the idea of the automobile of today.

HKtB:  The youth is already there. They support and adopt the circular economy. I think Citroën is the right brand to do this. 

PL: Indeed, we push within the Stellantis group for these concepts, and I think that our clients are far more inclined to make these choices than the buyers of other brands.

HKtB: I thank you for this interview. Thinking out of the box is always interesting.

PL: I thank you, always lovely to exchange these ideas, thank you for the conversation. I also think that every car we build has to make the life of our clients better. These are not empty words. The Ami improves lives. We offered a new service; in Paris, people smiled when they saw the car. It takes something to convince a Parisien!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

BMW rides you into an enhanced real and virtual world at CES Las Vegas…

The BMW Group is sharing its vision of the future digital experience, both inside and outside the vehicle, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in Las Vegas.

It presented the BMW i Vision Dee, a futuristic mid-size sedan with a new and pared-down design language. The name “Dee” stands for Digital Emotional Experience – and that is precisely its aim: to create an even stronger bond between people and their cars.

This car has future digital functions will go far beyond the level of voice control and driver assistance systems we are familiar with today.

It starts all with a BMW Head-Up-Display extending across the full width of the windscreen, providing a glimpse of the next vehicle generation.

From 2025 onwards, this innovation will be available in the models of the NEUE KLASSE. The BMW Group has also refined its use of colour-change technology. Having unveiled the BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink, with the ability to change from black to white, at the last CES, BMW i Vision Dee can now curate its exterior in up to 32 colours.

“With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalisation to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers – and, also, for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure,” said Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “At the same time, BMW i Vision Dee is another step on the road to the NEUE KLASSE. With this vision, we are looking far into the future and underlining the tremendous importance of digitalisation for our upcoming product generations.”

With its intelligent, almost human capabilities, BMW i Vision Dee accompanies drivers not only through real-life situations on the roads, but also in their digital environment.

“A BMW lives by its unparalleled digital performance. BMW i Vision Dee is about perfect integration of virtual and physical experiences,” said Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Development. “Whoever excels at integrating the customer’s everyday digital worlds into the vehicle at all levels will succeed in mastering the future of car-building.”

BMW Mixed Reality Slider: into the virtual world in five steps

The BMW, in combination with the advanced Head-up Display, is the digital highlight and central operating control of BMW i Vision Dee. The completely virgin and simple dashboard panel shows just a line with dots. This is the Mixed Reality Slider. By using shy-tech sensors on the instrument panel, drivers can decide for themselves how much digital content they want to see on the advanced Head-Up Display. The five-step dot selection ranges from analogue, to driving-related information, to the contents of the communications system, to augmented-reality projection, right up to entry into virtual worlds. In parallel, dimmable windows can also be used to gradually fade out reality. Mixed reality can be experienced in BMW i Vision Dee in an immersive way that engages different senses without requiring any additional tools, creating a new dimension of driving pleasure for the user.

Advanced BMW Head-Up-Display: in NEUE KLASSE from 2025

The BMW Group is known in the automotive sector as a trailblazer for the Head-Up-Display and has systematically refined this technology over the past two decades. In BMW i Vision Dee, projection across the entire width of the windscreen allows information to be displayed on the largest possible surface – which only becomes recognisable as a display once it is activated. In this way, the BMW Group demonstrates the huge potential of projection technology and BMW i Vision Dee visualizes how a advanced Head-Up-Display could also be utilized in the future for the display and operating concept. The standard-production version of the BMW Head-up-Display extending across the full width of the windscreen will be used in the models of the NEUE KLASSE from 2025 onwards.

Welcome scenario with voice and phygital icons

The digital experience already begins outside the vehicle, with a personalized welcome scenario that combines graphical elements, light and sound effects. Natural language serves as the simplest, most intuitive form of interaction, enabling perfect understanding between humans and their vehicles. The headlights and the closed BMW kidney grille also form a common phygital (fusion of physical and digital) icon on a uniform surface, allowing the vehicle to produce different facial expressions. This means BMW i Vision Dee can talk to people and, at the same time, express moods such as joy, astonishment or approval visually. BMW i Vision Dee can also project an image of the driver’s avatar onto the side window to further personalize the welcome scenario.

World premiere for full-colour E Ink technology

Following the spectacular debut of the BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink at CES 2022, the BMW Group is now unveiling a full-colour version of the E Ink technology in BMW i Vision Dee that will be used as the outer skin of the vehicle for the first time worldwide.

BMW i Vision Dee, rather than simply alternating between black and white, now showcases a multi-coloured, fully variable and individually configurable exterior. An ePaper film from the BMW Group’s cooperation partner, E Ink, is applied to the body to create this magical display of colour. Up to 32 colours can be displayed.

The body surface of the BMW i Vision Dee is divided into 240 E Ink segments, each of which is controlled individually. This allows an almost infinite variety of patterns to be generated and varied within seconds. The laser cutting process used to trim the films and the electronic control design were developed in partnership with E Ink. The adaptation of this technology for curved surfaces and the programming of the animations, were developed by BMW Group’s in-house engineers – enabling a form enabling a form of customisation that is unique throughout the automotive sector worldwide.

Reductive design – inside and out

The design of BMW i Vision Dee has been deliberately pared down to focus attention on the digital experience and the DNA of the BMW brand. The exterior is defined by the classic three-box sedan design that forms the core of the BMW brand. Traditional design elements, like the BMW kidney grille, twin circular headlights and the Hofmeister kink, are reimagined, with phygital icons replacing analogue elements. This gives BMW i Vision Dee its own digital, but human, character.

Inside, digitalisation goes hand in hand with reductive use of materials, operating controls and displays to ensure nothing distracts from the digital experience and the new feeling of enhanced driving pleasure. The unconventional design of the steering wheel, with its central vertical spoke, creates touchpoints that come to life when approached or touched and can be operated by moving the thumb. These phygital touchpoints control selection of the content projected onto the windscreen and, together with the Head-Up Display, thus support the principle of “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road”.

“With BMW i Vision Dee, we are showing how the car can be seamlessly integrated into your digital life and become a trusty companion. The vehicle itself becomes your portal to the digital world – with the driver always in control,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design. “Implemented the right way, technology will create worthwhile experiences, make you a better driver and simply bring humans and machines closer together.”

Another milestone on the road to the NEUE KLASSE

The future of the BMW Group is electric, circular and digital. BMW i Vision Dee represents the digital aspect of this trio and will be another milestone on the road to the next vehicle generation, the NEUE KLASSE. The BMW Group will provide further insights and glimpses of the revolutionary vehicle concept of the NEUE KLASSE over the course of 2023. See more news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Fiat present at CES with the 500 electric, and a metaverse powered showroom…

The FIAT brand is playing its original approach to automotive mobility again at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegaswith two major exhibits starring the New 500 electric.

FIAT unveils for the first time the world’s first metaverse-powered showroom: the FIAT Metaverse Store. This revolution in customer experience is accessible, thanks to the partnership with Microsoft and Touchcast, at the Microsoft booth located in the West Hall #6017, recreating the feel of a showroom from home.

Alongside the FIAT Metaverse Store, the New 500 will also be the center of attention in the Free2move area of the Stellantis booth.

Reinventing customer approach in North America…

At the Los Angeles Autoshow 2022 Olivier Francois, FIAT CEO and CMO Global of Stellantis, officially announced the launch of the new Fiat 500e in North America in the first quarter of 2024 and the FIAT Metaverse Store will be one of the key innovative pillars for launching the FIAT electric icon in the US.

Launched last December in Italy, the FIAT Metaverse Store makes the Brand a leader in offering an immersive, simple, and human-driven brand experience. Inside the FIAT Metaverse Store, customers will be able to discover, configure, and even purchase the New 500 La Prima by Bocelli, experiencing the feel of a showroom with the help of the FIAT Product Genius, a real person ready to answer any questions. The entire New 500 line-up, additional models and markets can be found in the metaverse-powered showroom during 2023.

The FIAT Metaverse Store is a user-friendly and accessible to all technology, in fact it does not require a virtual reality (VR) headset or expensive hardware. The public will be able to try it out at the Microsoft booth located in the West Hall #6017 at CES 2023.

FIAT and Free2move together for more sustainable urban mobility

Lights shine on the New 500e 3+1 in the special Rose Gold livery, displayed as the only car at the Free2move stand. A collaboration, between FIAT and Free2move, stemming from a common goal: to build an increasingly sustainable urban mobility ecosystem as part of their mission to make EVs more accessible. The two brands are working on a unique value proposition that goes beyond rental, car sharing, and subscription. The customers will be able to enjoy a 360° Free2move experience through a Fiat car for a few minutes, several days or even months. This offer allows customers to tailor their rental contracts and associated services based on usage with a single invoice, directly from a dedicated APP.

More Fiat news soon also on the Brussels Salon de l’auto!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Volkswagen Group of America will provide a glimpse of the ID.7…

At the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas between 5 and 8 January 2023, Volkswagen Group of America will showcase its first fully electric sedan based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB). It will still be seen in a “smart” camouflage, which uses unique technology and multi-layered paintwork to create light effects on parts of the vehicle.

The ID. AERO3 concept vehicle initially presented in China already provided a preview of the new model, which embodies an aerodynamic design concept and is able to achieve ranges of up to 700 kilometers (WLTP).

After a six-year break, Volkswagen Group of America is returning to the CES – the world’s largest trade show for electronics – with a very special product…

With the new ID.7, VW is extending its electric model range into the upper segments. The ID.7 is one of ten new electric models that VW is planning to launch by 2026.

VW seems to have learned some lessons when it comes to the functionality of the various infotainment and dashboard commands. It ofeers a new display concept, an augmented reality head-up display, a 38-centimeter (15-inch) screen and new air conditioning controls integrated into the first level of the infotainment system. Now we also have illuminated touch sliders…

Like all other models in the ID. family, the ID.7 is based on the MEB of the Volkswagen Group. The advantages of the modular matrix with short overhangs and long wheelbase (2.97 meters) provide a large interior.

With its ID.7 sedan, Volkswagen is expanding its successful fully electric ID. family into the upper middle class of the high-volume segment and advancing its electric mobility campaign with the ACCELERATE strategy. VW has already reached a first milestone: Since the first ID.3 models were handed over to customers in September 2020, Volkswagen has delivered 500,000 vehicles from its ID. family worldwide through its subsidiaries – around one year earlier than planned and despite the ongoing difficulties in the supply chain.

After the ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and ID.6 (only in China) models and the new ID. Buzz7, the ID.7 will be the sixth model from the ID. family and is Volkswagen’s second global car to be based on the MEB after the ID.4. It is planned to launch the electric sedan in the three primary markets of China, Europe and North America. The ID.7 for the European market will be produced at the Volkswagen Emden plant. After the ID.4, it will be the second model based on the modular electric drive matrix to be built in Emden.

More news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Nissan press conference 2023: more than ever offering clever and future-oriented electrification with a renewed range…

Nissan Belux was the first to hold a press conference prior to the Brussels Auto Show 2023, and organized it at the magnificent premises of Quartier Papier in Zaventem. On the photo below you see the Nissan Ariya, which according to Nissan, redefines E-Driving…

At the start of the conference, Jerôme Saigot, Managing Director of Nissan Belux, stated that with the Ariya, LEAF and Townstar EV models, Nissan has a very nice range of e-vehicles. But consumers are still not fully ready for a 100% electric range of cars. With the new Qashqai e-POWER and the X-Trail e-POWER, they can experience the pleasure of a 100% electric transmission without having to recharge the car via a socket, thanks to a second gasoline engine that produces electricity, he said. Indeed, Nissan goes a step further than the competition with new technologies such as e-POWER. So Nissan reaffirms its role in the fields of crossovers and electric cars. But read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jerôme Saigot, Managing Director of Nissan Belux, presented the new Nissan electrified range and the environmental strategy of the brand towards 2030…

Nissan’s green strategy for 2030…

Jerôme Saigot also stressed that sustainability is at the core of Nissan’s long-term vision, Ambition 2030. Responding to critical environmental, societal and customer needs, this strategy sets out to deliver electrified models and technological innovation in key markets globally, empowering mobility and beyond. Ambition 2030 supports Nissan’s goal which is to be carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products and operations by 2050. 

Nissan JUKE Hybrid: new advanced powertrain offers efficiency and responsive performance

Indeed Nissan is embarking further on the 100 % electrification of its range. We have the Juke, the popular compact crossover, offered with hybrid technology. Key to the driving pleasure at the heart of the Nissan JUKE Hybrid is an advanced low friction multi modal gearbox, using  dog clutches instead of conventional synchronizer rings to shift the 4 “ICE” gears and 2 “EV” gears. Additionally, to reduce friction, this gearbox does not use a clutch. All vehicle starts are 100% electric, and the 2 EV motors are used in combination to synchronize the gears, delivering smooth and responsive acceleration. We will be keen to drive a hybrid Juke soon, and tell you about our driving experience with it.

A car which will please many is the Nissan Qashqai  e-Power, said Mervin Keuter, Communications Director at Nissan Belux, offering 100 % electric power without the need for recharging externally. Indeed, a combustion engine coupled to a generator provides the electricity. The e-POWER system consists of a high-output battery, complemented by a variable compression ratio 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine generating 156hp, a power generator, inverter and 140kW electric motor of similar size and power output as found in Nissan’s electric vehicles. The petrol engine generates electricity, which can be transmitted via the inverter to the battery pack, the electric motor or both, according to the driving scenario.

Melvin Keuter, Communications Director at Nissan Belux, highlighted the qualities of the Nissan Qashqai  e-Power…

What sets this powertrain apart is that the electric motor is the sole source of power for the wheels, so its response is instant and linear. Needless to say that also here we are looking forward to gets our hands on one to experience how all this actually works. It certainly is clever and responds certainly to what modern-day drivers want… we also want to see how economical and environment friendly all this still is.

The dashboard of the new Nissan X-Trail with e-POWER and e-4ORCE…

Another important novelty for Nissan is the revamped X-Trail with its e-4ORCE  system on X-Trail and fully electric Ariya. The innovative e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system was conceived for use on either Nissan’s pure electric powertrains or with its e-POWER system, mentioned above. In both cases, the driven wheels are powered purely by electric motors fed by the battery.

In the case of the X-Trail, the dual e-motor system has a total output of 157kW (213PS) with a 150kW front motor and a rear 100kW motor. This generates lively acceleration from 0-100km/h in 7 seconds. Nissan proudly announces that a rear electric motor has its advantages: it has a 10,000 times faster rear torque response than a mechanical 4WD system(!).

Rémy Le Gall, Marketing Director of Nissan Belux, commented also on the electrified Nissan range and last but not least dealer organisation and client approach, of which more later in a separate report!

Now, on the X-trail, you can also opt for the turbocharged 1.5-litre variable compression ratio powering the wheels in the traditional fashion. Generating 120kW (163PS) and 300Nm of torque, it will be offered only in two-wheel drive configuration, with power to the wheels being transmitted via Xtronic stepped continuously variable transmission. In driving scenarios with relaxed driving and light acceleration, the engine switches to high compression ratio for optimised fuel efficiency, while in situations where more performance is needed, the compression ratio is adjusted to a low level.

The powertrain is also equipped with 12v mild hybrid technology. The system provides torque assist, extended idle stop, quick restart and coasting stop, with benefits to both fuel economy and CO2 output.

The Nissan X-Trail e-4ORCE offers 100 % electric power without the need for recharging externally…

Driving the future: the Ariya

Staying true to Nissan’s heritage of fun-to-drive, exciting vehicles, the Ariya is built on the all-new Alliance-developed CMF-EV platform that’s optimized to deliver unparalleled performance.

The Ariya’s all-electric platform combines excellent power delivery, charging capabilities and range, with a carefully tuned balance between ride comfort and handling agility. Available in three versions (Ariya 2WD 63kWh, Ariya 2WD 87kWh, Ariya e-4ORCE AWD 87kWh) and a range of up to 533 km, Ariya can confidently meet a variety of customer needs.

The Ariya 87kWh can recover up to 350 kilometres with a 30-minute quick charge using a CCS charging system. The battery pack sits at the base of the chassis to ensure 50/50 weight distribution on the e-4ORCE version and near-equal weight distribution on the 2WD versions. During benchmarking, engineers placed great emphasis on striking the ideal balance between handling agility, secure feeling and ride comfort, something not all EV rivals are known for.

Subtle regional differences exist for Ariya, as well. For example, European consumers demand responsive steering and high manoeuvrability, but also require additional stability at higher speeds, so damping forces were increased to improve body control. Nissan Europe engineers also adjusted spring rates and retuned steering feedback to increase on-centre definition at higher speeds.

A timeless Japanese design language…

Incorporating Nissan’s Japanese DNA, Ariya’s striking exterior and interior reimagines EV potential by embodying Nissan’s Timeless Japanese Futurism philosophy of powerful design that fuses aesthetics with functionality while creating an upscale, open atmosphere.

The all-new EV platform and compact nature of powertrain components made it possible for Nissan to position Ariya’s climate-control system under the hood. This allowed designers to use the whole length of the cabin and create a flat, open floor with a lounge-like space inspired by premium futurism.

For the LCV market: the new Townstar…

The Townstar EV builds on the success of the e-NV200. Built on a shared CMF-C platform, the new vehicle will be manufactured at the Alliance centre of excellence for small vans in Maubeuge, France.

The fully electric version of the all-new Townstar EV features a powertrain optimised with intelligent energy management and battery thermal cooling. The Townstar EV is able to achieve a superior range autonomy of up to 300km (WLTP cycle). Delivering 122 PS and 245Nm of torque, the Townstar EV’s  45kWh battery can accept AC charging (11 kW or 22 kW) or DC quick charging (CCS format). The latter of which enables users to charge the battery from 15% to 80% in as little as 37 minutes.

Lots of interesting news from Nissan, keep posted for further Nissan news and driving reports of their interesting new cars!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Alfa Romeo Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4: the full story of a modern, electrified thoroughbred…

We drove the Alfa Romeo Plug-in Hybrid Q4 Veloce in the historic roads near Biella…

Alfa Romeo is at an important turning point of its long history. With the Tonale, this potent, 280 HP stylish compact SUV, it wants to make a fundamental transition. It is the first milestone on the way to zero emission(s) – within 5 years the brand wants to see all its Alfa’s electric. It makes us shiver, quite frankly, and hopefully not literally, when a cold winter will bite us all in conflict ridden Europe nowadays.

But indeed, a positive mind and hope should fulfill our hearts, and looking at the mechanics of this Tonale, there is still plenty to let it beat a bit faster.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

An excellent and very convincing thoroughbred hybrid.

The Tonale is conceived when the merger between FCA and PSA was not yet achieved, and this is one of the (main?) reasons we find a so-called FCA “GSE” or Global Small Engine, also marketed as Firefly, under the hood as its combustion engine. This is a family of engines produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or (FCA) starting in 2016, and subsequently Stellantis.

The unit in the Alfa is also dubbed as the “FCA e-engine” and is to be seen in slightly different power versions now also in the Jeep Renegade 4xe, in the Jeep Compass 4xe. It is being produced in the Brazilian Betim plant, now the largest vehicle plant in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. It was the production unit with the largest capacity installed of the entire Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group. The Tonale itself rolls of the production lines at the Stellantis plant in Italian Pomigliano d’Arco, a municipality of the Metropolitan City of Naples in Italy, located north of Mount Vesuvius.

Of course, this engine embodies the very latest state of the art technology. Indeed, this new generation MultiAir III, present in the GSE family, has even more flexible valve control. The new cam profile with pre-lift allows the opening of the suction valves during the exhaust phase, aiming at the realization of the internal EGR, with reduction of nitrogen oxides and increase of the efficiency of the engine in the partial load. Besides, the lifting profile of the MultiAir III intake valve is more extensive and makes it possible to manage the effective compression ratio of the engine, keeping the tendency to detonation under control regardless of the fuel used. Wow!

The unit produces 180 HP or 132 kW, and is coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which provides traction to the front axle. We must say that the unit is not only smooth and very willing, it also produces the unmistakable, typical throb of a classic Alfa; the sound engineers did truly excellent work!

But then, this is a fully fledged hybrid, and this Tonale Q4 has an electric motor capable of supplying 90kW of max peak power and 250 Nm of torque to the rear axle.

The battery at the centre and the electric motor and its battery junction control box at the rear warrant an excellent weight distribution…

The 306-volt, 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery supplies an electric range of over 80 km in the urban cycle and more than 600 km of total range. It is also excellent in terms of sustainability thanks to the new hybrid drivetrain which reduces Co2 emissions to 26kg/km, bringing the range’s total emissions down by 40%. A reduction has also been made in fuel consumption, which has been brought down to 1.14 liters per 100 km in the WLTP cycle. Plus, with the aim of providing maximum efficiency, it takes less than 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery when the 7.4 kW onboard charger is in use.

Driving is believing…

We took the Tonale “Q4” -as we shorten its name here – on an interesting 102 km road circuit laid out by the Alfa people in the surroundings of the Balocco proving ground. It led us via an interesting picturesque city Ricetto di Candelo and its beautiful Castello di Castellengo towards Biella, then took us on a nice curvy stretch back to the Autostrada direction Balocco. Endearing is the precision of its steering, and the feedback of the road surface in your hands at the wheel. You can really place this Alfa on the ideal line and adopt some razor sharp driving, even in the “natural” or “N” mode. We found the steering a bit too light however, except in the “D” or Dynamic mode, where the steering is more direct, even more responsive and feels a bit heavier.

The gleaming row of Alfa’s ready for the road test, aligned in front of the Balocco Proving Ground headquarters…

But pleasure at the wheel is to be had every inch of the way, and we found the Alfa also display excellent neutral handling, also thanks to its ideal weight distribution. Icing on the cake was a stint on the curvy circuit section of the proving ground, behind a Giulia Quadrifoglio pace car. It gave us the opportunity to drive flat out and (safely) close to the limits of this endearing Tonale, and the car could prove its qualities masterfully. Remember, the four wheels are driven, the front wheels being powered by the internal combustion engine and the rear wheels driven by the electric motor. Your servant could thanks to the e-AWD system, enjoy the instantaneous deployment of 100% of available torque from the electric motor, with a rear axle responding as soon as one steps on the throttle, and this resulted in excellent and stable out of corner acceleration, truly exhilarating indeed!

The performance is of course nothing short of astonishing. On the short straights of the circuit speeds well over 170 km/h were easily achieved, with stopping power to match. The “Q4” Tonale shoots from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 6,2 seconds and hurtles further to a top speed of 206 km/h. On e-power alone, the Tonale can achieve 135 km/h.

The suspension is well calibrated. For technical buffs we tell you here that the Tonale, as a result of its development history, runs on the FCA Small Wide platform of the Jeep Compass of the second generation.

The D.N.A. selector at the centre of action…

You can drive this Alfa exactly how you feel. We already applauded its qualities in the Dynamic mode, and the subdued but sporting roar of the engine still rings in our ears. But then you can also enjoy the agility, responsiveness and nimbleness of the Alfa Tonale in a more refined, “zen” way, which Alfa calls “modern sportiness”. We do agree, as the transgression between engine and E-power is ever so smooth as to becoming completely imperceptible, and that is no small feat. So when you select “N” or “Natural” mode, it keeps hybrid driving to all-wheel drive to optimize performance. The use of combustion engine and electric motor is automatically managed and allows for energy and fuel savings without giving up on performance.

Last but not least there is the “Advance Efficiency” mode, calibrated to obtain maximum energy efficiency in full-electric driving mode. It is the ideal driving mode in urban traffic. When you lift the throttle, the car continues driving in “Sailing.” Meanwhile, when one is going downhill, the new eCoasting Descent Control is activated to maintain a constant speed of 50 km/h, which is however adjustable with a light dab on the throttle or brake. Specifically, “E-Save” allows one to recharge or maintain the battery level when the internal combustion engine is on, and there is also the regenerative braking system.

Premium comfort and safety

The Tonale is quite roomy, remember, it rolls on the second generation Jeep Compass platform. Sound insulation is also quite good, enhancing the “zen” driving experience. Moreover, on-board comfort is also ensured by dual-zone climate control, pleasing ambient light, a sophisticated Infotainment system, ventilated and heated front seats, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

It also includes ADAS systems for level 2 automatic driving, a hi-res camera which provides a 360° view of the car, a Blind-Spot Detector and Rear Cross-Path Detector, as well as superior structural and industrial quality which earned it a 5-star NCAP rating.

Software connectivity…

Amazon Alexa allows one to remain constantly updated on the state of the vehicle from the comfort of one’s home, as it provides useful information like the charge Tonale Plug-In’s battery. The built-in Infotainment system comes standard and offers contents, functionalities, and services which are constantly being updated via its customizable Android operating system and 4G connectivity with “Over The Air” (OTA) updates.

Thanks to a hi-res screen whose overall dimensions are 22.5”—a 12.3” totally digital screen and a 10.25” main touchscreen unit, the Tonale Plug-In ensures easy-to-use connection. The centre 10,25” screen is also seen by the way in the 500e. The Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4’s circular dials include ad-hoc upgrades like the electro-biscione in the lower part of the right dial which changes color based on the electric motor’s status (off, on, on and charging) and so provides all the information related to power and charging. Clever!

Four new functionalities of Alfa Connect Services make their debut on the Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4:

E-control: it allows the customer to control various functionalities based on the EV features—like charging and the climate control system—at a distance directly from the My Alfa Connect App, which you have to install on your phone.

Dynamic Range Mapping: it allows drivers to travel with peace of mind as it shows them the destination they can reach based on the battery charge both on the navigation system map and the My Alfa Connect app.

At the end of our 105,9 km road trip, the instruments tell the story: we drove 50,6 km on engine power, 55,2 km on batter e-power. This resulted in a consumption of 3,86 litres/100 km, but then with 8 km left in the battery, so we estimate some 14 kW consumed…

Charging Station Finder: it allows the customer to see the nearest public charging stations both on the navigation system map and the My Alfa Connect app.

My eCharge: it allows for the use of the My Alfa Connect app to directly access Free2Move eSolutions services to manage public and private charging. In fact, it is possible to locate the public charging stations, check the charging methods, make payments, visualize the charge history, manage one’s own Wallbox to decide how much electricity to use and even increase, decrease, suspend, and reactivate the charge.

Your Tonale has an NFT which lets you generate a certificate…

This means that specifically, based on the customer’s selection, the NFT generates a certificate which guarantees the identity and good maintenance of the vehicle, and thus supports its residual value. The NFT certificate provides a further source of credibility on the used car market and is even more valuable on the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 as it contains even more information.

A special “Edizione Speciale” at the launch…

The Tonale Plug-in Hybrid Q4 is the top-of-the-range model and is in line with the simplification and rationalization of Alfa Romeo’s lineup strategy. In fact, it can already be ordered in the exclusive EDIZIONE SPECIALE launch version and in the VELOCE trim which has been made to reach the most in terms of performance and sportiness.

The EDIZIONE SPECIALE offers inserts on the titanium body, a special badge on the fenders, and a “Tonale” black badge, 20” alloy wheels, metallic pedals, red Brembo brake calipers and aluminum shift paddles which are integrated into the steering column. Later on, customers will be able to order the Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 in the Ti trim for a more elegant and distinctive character.

We have to wait a bit to get our hands on this remarkable Alfa for a more extended test, but stay tuned for more Alfa news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Alfa Romeo presents heritage program…

The Alfa Romeo SZ

At the 39th edition of “Auto e Moto d’Epoca”, one of the most important events in Europe for vintage car and motorcycle enthusiasts, Alfa Romeo presents the “Alfa Romeo Classiche” heritage program, a range of services with the precise aim of protecting and promoting the history of the iconic Italian brand.

For the first time in Stellantis, the brand’s top management is personally involved in all the activities that make up the whole range of its dedicated services. In fact, the certification committee is chaired by Alfa Romeo’s CEO and the Head of Heritage department, with the support of the Alfa Romeo Museum. This support is crucial, as this museum houses the production registers and all the technical documentation used by the committee to analyze the information on the examined cars.

Abarth is also incuded in the overall Stellantis Heritage program…

Jean Philippe Imparato – Alfa Romeo CEO: “we are enhancing our historic heritage”

When presenting the program, the CEO stated: “Alfa Romeo is going through a key phase in its history. The historical period we are going through is a genuine evolution. The brand’s future includes very ambitious goals aimed at redefining the concept of sportiness in the 21st century, while remaining faithful to its DNA. While planning for the future, our heritage is always our main source of inspiration. For us, the Alfa Romeo Classiche heritage program aims to enhance our historic automotive heritage by certifying the authenticity of vintage Alfa Romeos and giving new life to marvelous examples that still captivate and excite car enthusiasts around the world.”

The program…

Parts for the Lancia Delta Integrale are also provided…

 The Alfa Romeo Classiche heritage program consists of the Certificate of Origin – which has been offered for Alfa Romeo cars since 2016 – together with the Certificate of Authenticity and the Restoration. The Top management of the brand personally chairs and intervenes in the committee that evaluates historic cars and issues the certifications with the support of the Heritage team and the experts in Alfa Romeo history.

Issuing a Certificate of Origin…

Alfa Romeo offers the opportunity to discover the history of each car through its chassis number. The service provides for an accurate document review at the Brand’s production registers and the issue of a certificate certifying the car’s year of production and original configuration: model specifications, engine serial number, original exterior and interior details.

… and a Certificate of Authenticity.

Historic gems are kept and restored by the heritage department…

After analyzing in detail the historic car taken under consideration and verifying its production data and technical specifications at the company archives, Alfa Romeo, with the support of the Heritage department, certifies the authenticity of the classic car. To obtain this certification each car goes through a rigorous inspection and evaluation process which is carried out by the specialized team, verifying the authenticity of the car and its components and the functioning of the main mechanical parts. The vehicle can be examined at the Officine Classiche in Mirafiori or directly at the customer’s home, if he prefers, or at the Stellantis & You sales and service dealership in Rome and Palermo.

A fully fledged Restoration service.

Furthermore, the same team that takes care of the’ historical collection is available to private clients, with services ranging from simple maintenance to complete restoration: from diagnosis to exterior restoration, repair of individual mechanical and aesthetic components, and final testing.

A dedicated area on the official Alfa Romeo website…

The brand will introduce an area dedicated on its website to the new “Alfa Romeo Classiche” heritage program that allows lucky owners of historic cars to make use of programs dedicated to Certificates of Authenticity and Restoration. It will therefore be possible to receive all the information and support necessary to start a dedicated and personalized program directly from the brand’s website.

To put you in the mood, just look at the accompanying photos…where you don’t see only Alfa’s, but also Lancia and Abarth, which are also taken under the wings of the Stellantis Heritage depoartment…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

The iconic and ultra-exclusive Citroën My Ami Buggy in Brussels and Knokke…

The My Ami Buggy was presented to us at Brussels Tour & Taxis…

Friday 7 October we stood eye to eye in Tour & Taxis in Brussels with the “Buggy” version of Citroën’s celebrated My Ami. The original “Buggy” concept was presented in December 2021, and met right away with strong public demand. This led Citroën to produce a very small first series of merely 50 units.

It was originally only intended for the French market, and it was launched on June 21 via an online sales site. In 17 minutes 28 seconds, they were all sold out…

Your servant at the wheel of the Buggy…

We were therefore very pleased when Citroën Belux took the initiative to present this little gem to us at the premises of Tour & Taxis in Brussels,

where they also treated us to culinary delights in the Gare Maritime Food Market. Indeed, there you can discover the Belgian terroir with 10 new street food concepts, in market style format, presented by 8 top chefs in an iconic venue with a unique bar experience.

The “sustainable” style tables will carry delicious dishes from star chefs for you to enjoy…

But there is more of the “Buggy” to see in Knokke…

On the sidelines of the activities that will take place this weekend in the fashionable seaside resort of Knokke (Zoute Grand Prix, from October 6 to 9), the exclusive Citroën My Ami Buggy will, after a brief visit to Bruges at the beginning of the week, its first kilometers on our Belgian roads, to the delight of ‘carspotters’ always in search of original images.

My Ami Buggy with its adventurous look embodies the liberty of mobility and the holiday spirit with its totally open interior. The doors are being replaced by tubular metal gates. The roof has also disappeared in favor of a removable canvas to make the most of the great outdoors.

It looks also quite adventurous with its Khaki bodywork, its fender flares, its front and rear bumpers, its golden rims. It’s also hard to resist its yellow accessories as they are so inviting to be used…

So see you this weekend, Saturday October 8, when the My Ami Buggy will make its bold appearance in Knokke…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Citroën introduces a bold concept car for family electric mobility: less is more, thanks to the power of genius…

Right after having unveiled its new brand identity, Citroën stunned the international press last Friday, when it presented its OLI concept car in Paris.

You can judge yourself from the photos I took with my flagship Samsung S22 (I am getting increasingly used to it now) how completely groundbreaking the design and the whole concept of the car is actually.

I decided to bring the news of this concept car in different episodes, as thanks to the excellent PR people, I was able to have interviews with not only the CEO of Citroën, Vincent Cobée, but also with Laurence Hansen, Head of Citroën Product Development and Citroën’s Head of Design, Pierre Leclercq. I will bring this extensively in further reports, together with also a further interview with Laurent Barria, responsible for marketing.

So read on, and you can expect much more soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The oli concept car focuses on how more can be achieved with lesssays Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée

In the footsteps of the Ami…now for mobility of the whole family.

Citroën already showed with its Ami (in a few days, we will also attend in Brussels the introduction of the Ami Buggy) that it believes strongly in offering affordable mobility, and it builds further on this concept, taking ‘unconventional’ to a new level with this conceptual oli [all-ë].

The Citroën oli concept is designed to do the same for family mobility that Ami achieved for personal urban mobility. Significantly, oli acts as a precursor to the concepts and innovations that will be available in future Citroën electric models.

The oli concept car focuses on how more can be achieved with less, first and foremost with less weight, how the inventive use of responsible materials and a sustainable production process can lead to inexpensive yet desirable zero-emission vehicles that meet multiple lifestyles.

In his introduction speech, CEO Vincent Cobée  stated “Three societal conflicts are happening simultaneously – first is the value of and dependence on mobility, second is economic constraints and resource uncertainty, and third is our growing sense of desire for a responsible and optimistic future.”

Then he commented on the trend that cars are becoming bigger, heavier and more complex…

Styling language which is soon to be seen on new Citroën models…

“A typical mid-70s family car weighed around 800kg and was 3.7 m long and 1.6m wide.” He continued. Today’s equivalents have grown to more than 1200kg, are at least 4.3 m long and 1.8m wide. Some even weigh more than 2500kg. Legal and safety requirements have driven some of this, but if the trend continues and we carry on parking these vehicles 95% of each day and driving 80% of journeys with a single occupant, the conflict between the need to protect our planet and the future promise of sustainable, electrified mobility will not easily be resolved.”

He concluded: ““Citroën believes electrification should not mean extortion, and being eco-conscious should not be punitive by restricting our mobility or making vehicles less rewarding to live with.  We need to reverse the trends by making them lighter and less expensive and find inventive ways to maximize usage.”

So true we would say, and it is this unerring vision which inspired Citroën to build this concept car.

They focused instead on creating a pure, honest vehicle that is above all lighter, less complicated and truly affordable, as well as inventive and joyful.

With oli, Citroën is raising the stakes for future family mobility by re-thinking every detail to reduce resources and needed materials without compromising on quality or versatility.

A car conceived and built for a (very) long life

Laurence Hansen, Head of Citroën Product Developmentnow we choose a lifestyle, and the car which responds to it…

Who does not crave for a car which becomes your classic, beloved, (life)long companion? Well, that’s the beauty of it, the oli will be at your side, no matter what or how long. This conceptual multi-activity family vehicle has  sustainability at its heart and demonstrates how ‘best-in-class’ Life-Cycle-Assessment (LCA) can be achieved, from conception onwards with restrained, optimal use of lightweight and recycled materials, to sustainable production processes, and from durability for an extended ‘life in service’ to responsible end-of-life recyclability. The front and rear end parts can be easily changed, upgraded, customized, and the oli can within the family be passed from one generation to another…

 Thoughtful details…

Clever details are found throughout. The seats, for example, are simply constructed and use 80% less parts than a traditional seat. They are made of recycled materials and clever ‘mesh’ backrest designs enhance the natural light inside the vehicle.

They can also be easily upgraded or personalized to suit the taste of individual owners. It’s indeed the result of a chosen and adopted lifestyle, and the concept  car reflects that. Your servant also suggested to Citroën Head of Design Pierre Leclercq that in the aftermarket, a company like Ikea could offer their version of the seats to rejuvenate the interior after many years of use, for instance. Pierre Leclercq liked the idea…

Less weight means less power needed and more range…

 The oli offers reasonable, useable performance for many. Through the use of lightweight materials, oli can extend the range of the 40kWh battery on board to up to 248 miles between charges. Citroën has also limited the top speed of the oli to 68mph to maximise efficiency, while rapid charging capability ensures a charge from 20% to 80% takes just 23 minutes.

Extraordinary looks, harbinger of a total revolution…

The reasonable performance – read top speed – gave extra room for the designers to shape the concept car. Striking and clearly making a statement, oli’s unconventional stance and silhouette exude personality, productivity and positivity in a footprint similar to a compact SUV at 4.20m long, 1.65m high and 1.90m wide.

It defies traditional labelling. oli can be whatever it needs to be – family limo, urban explorer, adventure vehicle, workmate, or even an extension to the family home thanks to its ability to power everyday appliances.

The oli was presented in the stunning setting of a caserne de sapeurs pompiers in Paris…

Pierre Leclercq, believes oli embraces purity and geniality for families who don’t care for automotive status and stereotypes. I couldn’t agree more…

In the oli, the aesthetic approach has been deliberately exaggerated to reinforce functionality and versatility. And, like Ami, it is not afraid to show its simple and intuitive approach and distinguishes itself with its playful use of colour highlights, bright trim materials and vivacious patterns that advocate opportunities for personalisation.

Versatile

The oli truly threads new paths here. Oli’s flat bonnet, roof and rear ‘pick-up bed’ panels, as well as driving the vehicle’s unique silhouette, were chosen to meet the objectives for low weight, high strength and maximum durability.

Made from recycled corrugated cardboard formed into a honeycomb sandwich structure between fibreglass reinforcing panels, they have been co-created with partner BASF. They are coated in Elastoflex® Polyurethane resin covered in a protective layer of tough, textured Elastocoat®, which is often used on parking decks or loading ramps, and painted with innovative, waterborne BASF R-M Agilis® paint.

The panels are very rigid, light and strong – so strong that an adult can stand on them – and weight is reduced by 50 per cent when compared to an equivalent steel roof construction.

The roof is quite strong, as is amply demonstrated by Laurence Hansen, with Pierre Leclercq and CEO Vincent Cobée applauding…

Load carrying versatility is not compromised either, as roof rails each side of the roof panel allow owners to attach accessories like bicycle racks and roof boxes for family vacations, while below the bonnet panel are neatly detailed storage areas including compartments for charging cables plus personal and emergency items.

Not afraid to go vertical…

All of the key design elements on oli are perfectly horizontal or vertical, indeed, Citroën is looking for honesty and efficiency in the form language.

 The windscreen is vertical because it’s the shortest distance between top and bottom and uses the smallest amount of glass. As well as reducing weight and complexity, the smaller screen is less expensive to produce or replace.

To aid aerodynamic efficiency, oli features an experimental “Aero Duct” system between the front section of the bonnet and the flat top panel which blows air towards the screen, creating a curtain effect to smooth airflow over the roof.

The eye-catching windscreen frame is finished with a bright ‘infra-red’ wrap – a new signature colour Citroën will use in conjunction with its new brand identity.

The contrast between horizontal and vertical is evident in the rationally thought-through side panels and glass.

The front doors follow the example set by Ami and are identical on each side, though mounted differently. They are lighter, yet still strong, and much easier to make and assemble.

Reducing complexity and simplifying construction saves 20% in weight per door compared to a typical family hatchback. Half the number of components is required, and around 1.7kg per door is saved by the removal of the loudspeaker, soundproofing material and electrical wiring.

The external door panel is simpler to stamp and is designed to maximize interior storage. Gentle curvatures flow up the sides of the vehicle, and into the top of the side glass as it tumbles home to the roof.

Large, horizontal windows are tilted slightly towards the ground to help to reduce the effects of the sun, and manual, easy-to-operate “flip up” pantograph opening sections, similar to those used on Ami, provide fresh air ventilation.

The narrower rear doors are hinged at the rear of the vehicle and use vertical glass to give rear passengers more light and visibility. The change in form between the front and rear doors also gave an opportunity to add a passive air intake providing ventilation for rear seat passengers.

Access to the spacious cabin is wide, uncluttered and unhindered with both side doors open – ideal for when the driver needs to get straggling family members loaded efficiently.

Front and rear lighting modules are, again, uncomplicated but highly distinctive, and also play with the contrast between two horizontal lines and one vertical section. This approach will be evolved further as a distinctive Citroën lighting signature in future production vehicles.

A pick-up (load)bed in the boot…

Instead of a conventional boot, oli features an unexpected, inspired exercise in useful product design, and comes with a pick-up bed inside the boot for added practicality. The independent rear seat headrests pop up into the roof, the rear screen glass opens upwards, with the flat 994mm wide removable load bed expanding in length from 679mm to 1050mm.

The tailgate folds down and with the load bed panel removed there is up to 582 mm height between the vehicle floor and the rear glass. With the panel in place, 330 mm height of useful and secure trunk space is available below. The removable bed panel is light and flat, and made from the same recycled cardboard structure as the bonnet and roof panels.

But there is more, on the bodywork, the interior, the wheels and drivetrain. More soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Citroën has new brand identity and logo…

Citroën has revealed a fresh corporate brand identity and logo, signalling the start of a bold, exciting and dynamic new era for the 103-year-old brand as it accelerates electric mobility and extends its core DNA for affordability, audacity and customer wellbeing.

The new look reinterprets the original logo first adopted by founder André Citroën, inspired by the success of his first metalworking company producing chevron-shaped ’herringbone’ gear systems. The familiar “deux chevrons” has remained at the heart of Citroën’s identity ever since.

The new emblem signposts the brand’s transition and evolution and will debut at the end of September on a significant Citroën concept. We will travel next Thursday to Paris to see it!

The new logo will then progressively feature on future Citroën production and concept vehicles from mid-2023.

Designer’s comments

Citroën’s Global Brand Designer Alexandre Revert says: “As we look to the future, it was logical for us to close the loop by coming back graphically to André Citroën’s first logo which represented the genuine promise of affordable and innovative mobility for all. Progressively moving to a more prominent and visible brand signature for our future designs is a significant if subtle evolution, where the precision of the technical, functional chevrons are embraced by and contrasted with the warmth and almost human softness of the oval that surrounds them.”     

Complementing the new logo is a fresh corporate brand identity programme and new brand signature – “Nothing Moves Us Like Citroën” – which will start to be used in corporate and product communications and activities. The new identity took inspiration from more intimate non-automotive brands, including cosmetics and apparel, to convey a warmer expression of the brand that is easy on the eyes when experienced in different settings.

Particular care has been given to the design to ensure the digital experience meets the expectations of new customers for ergonomics and aesthetics – including providing a ‘dark mode’ option – fully meeting the needs and requirements for online sales.

The new identity extends beyond the vehicles…into the “La Maison Citroën”

In addition, a new animatic language is under development to integrate the new identity in all digital touchpoints, both inside the vehicle through HMI screens and outside in the My Citroën App, providing customers with an enriched and coherent Citroën experience.

The new identity will also extend beyond the digital environment and use of the new logo on and in vehicles to embrace all elements of the company’s corporate identity, from merchandising and documentation to dealerships and corporate building signage.

The comfortable and familiar “La Maison Citroën” retail interior concept will also continue to be enhanced. A fresh, simplified colour palette and new lettering evolved from Citroën’s current fonts will complement the logo and further enhance the new brand identity.

Inspired by an important legacy colour for Citroën which has been used on iconic cars throughout the company’s history including the 2CV and the DS, the Monte Carlo Blue will be making a welcome return to the car portfolio soon, as well as featuring in details of the brand identity palette for corporate and retail applications. This will be joined by a more energetic and distinctive Infra-Red, replacing the currently used red to add balance and dynamic contrast in physical, print and digital applications.

Remarks from the CEO…

Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée said: “As we embark on probably the most exciting chapter in our illustrious 103-year history, the time is right for Citroën to adopt a modern and contemporary new look. Our new identity is an elegant symbol of progress as we move our customers physically in daring, forward-looking vehicles that challenge traditional industry rules, and emotionally by ensuring their entire experience – particularly going electric – is more affordable, comfortable, and enjoyable whatever their wants and needs.

“Our legacy of inspiring consumers with daring and revolutionary vehicles is energising us to adopt a different, more inclusive approach to future family mobility, and we firmly believe that customers past, present and future will agree that nothing moves us like Citroën.”

Embedded in the expertise of Stellantis…

Developed by Citroën’s design team, the new Citroën identity has benefited from the expertise of Stellantis Design Studio, the global brand design agency of Stellantis dedicated to internal and external clients.

On next Thursday, 29 september, we will travel to Paris to meet the Citroën marketing and design people. More Citroën news soon!

Hans Knol ten Bensel