Developed to mark its 100th anniversary, Citroen’s autonomous EV concept contains many tributes to previous production models Following the reveal of its Ami One concept (self-described as “the embodiment of urban electric mobility”) last February, Citroen has announced the 19_19 which “expresses [a] vision of ultra-comfort and extended mobility to escape from the cities”. It will be revealed at VivaTech in Paris on 16 May.
The automaker describes the car as “an unconventional expression of the future, existing outside traditional automotive cues. It is a technological and aerodynamic object with exceptional proportions – and a spectacular, suspended and transparent capsule design – inspired by the world of aviation”.
It has a a cabin “styled as a living room through its architecture and materials, plunging each occupant into a cocoon in which each seat is a unique experience of absolute comfort” and is a full electric with a range of 497 miles (800km) and a suspended cabin with the automaker’s producion Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension and smart active control. It also has autonomous driving technology and a proactive ‘Personal Assistant’.
The exterior design features several layers: a fully-glazed suspended cabin; oversized wheels; and a subframe showcasing the electric drivetrain and suspension.
The capsule levitates above four ‘Super Tall and Narrow’ wheels with passengers transported by a car that appears to fly over the road.
The lengthy 3.10m wheelbase allows room for a large battery. The suspension is visible from outside and within the cabin.
The body side features a black panel that blends into the front doors, and serves as a welcome interface for drivers approaching the vehicle. The car acts as a personal assistant, recognising drivers, welcoming them and interacting with them through the black panel by displaying animated graphic messages, for example illustrating the locking and unlocking of the doors.
The glazed area at the front is grey-tinted so that passengers can see and be seen at mid-height. At the rear, blue micro-perforated trim provides privacy, however, enabling ‘see but not be seen’. Rows one and two are different, black at the front and blue at the rear.
The wheels were designed and with Goodyear. They are oversized 30-inch items with a diameter of 930mm and fitted with 255/30 R30 tyres and were inspired by gear cogs. A wheel usually comprises a rim and a tyre but these wheels are hybrid with seamless continuity between rim and tyre.
As seen on BMW’s Rolls-Royce models, the fixed-hub Citroen Origins logo remains horizontal when the wheels are turning.
The transparent sculpted double bonnet channels a stream of air towards the windscreen to enhance aerodynamics. The short upper bonnet serves as a spoiler – and as a medium for the light signature, which is formed from two strips of light in a Y shape. A new full LED light signature partition features the Citroen chevrons in the shape of a geometric double notch.
The glazed bubble of the interior is visible under the double bonnet. From the cabin, passengers can see the road beneath their feet. The upper and rearmost part of the bonnet is fitted with two rear-facing cameras that replace conventional door mirrors.
Two roof mounted LIDAR laser-detection measurement systems are positioned above the rear passengers. Resembling a twin tailplane, the LIDARs are made to deliberately stand out and are entirely separate from the body. Similar to the aviation sector, they work in sets of two for greater stability.
The subframe, designed like a skateboard, houses the traction batteries and all technical components. Fully streamlined, the subframe comprises aerodynamic appendices and piping to optimise air flow, as well as an array of sensors and radars useful to the operation of the vehicle. At the rear, underneath the cabin, the stem shape enhances aerodynamics by closing the airflow, inspired by the fin of an aeroplane.
The rear-hinged pillar-free convex doors allow for easy cabin access while driver’s eye height on the road is similar to that of a current SUV.
“Passenger comfort is substantially boosted by visibility, posture and easy cabin access,” said Citroen.
Augmented reality and a windscreen head-up display are fitted.
The front passenger seat is semi-reclined similar to a preset long-haul business class seat position. There is also a motorised lifting footrest.
Rear seats form a sofa extending back to the boot, “like the sundeck of a Riva boat”. All the components – seats and seat backs, ceiling and boot – are upholstered in the same material. Headrests are an intricate hammock-style weave of red elastic fabrics laid out in a chevron shape.
The borderless glazed area under the dashboard can be transformed into a film projection screen for passengers. Smooth and flat, it faces the passengers and establishes continuity between the exterior and interior. It also features a fully transparent glazed area on its lower section so that there is a view of the exterior.
The steering wheel remains so the driver can take back control where necessary the concept can drive autonomously. In the centre there is a screen that features an animated display of the Citroen chevrons from across the generations and the display is ‘monostable’ so the chevrons remain horizontal when the wheel is turned – a nod to Citroen’s past fixed-hub steering wheels. To comply with rules on driver distraction, the chevron animation stops when the vehicle begins to move.
The smart and actively controlled suspension system actively reads the road ahead to eliminate all jolts, supplementing the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions system and eliminating cornering sensations. The suspension system has been designed so that the wheels move relative to the cabin which remains completely stable and movement-free.
“The passengers are therefore entirely removed from the road and the outside world, ensconced in comfort and able to fully enjoy the new experience gained by autonomous driving.”
There are no touchscreens or buttons but welcome screens on the doors.
The Personal Assistant anticipates the needs of occupants, proposing actions even before the passengers express their needs. Substantially reducing the number of interactions required by passengers with the vehicle, it is the brain and nervous system of this concept and can propose alternatives to the initial route, detours to visit points of interest based on browsing history, breaks in pleasant nearby locations, and renowned restaurants in the surrounding area. The vehicle sound mapping enables messages, issued by the car, to be sent directly to the person concerned without disturbing the other occupants.
The ‘Personal Assistant has two positions on the dashboard. When the driver is driving, it is in support mode, so it is located on the lower section, under the dashboard. It remains active and proactive, but does not take control of driving. The driver does not have visual contact with the rear-projection area, to comply with driver distraction rules and to ensure a completely safe drive. In this mode, the projection area on the dashboard is reserved exclusively for the passengers, who can relax with a film.
In autonomous mode, the steering wheel, pedals and steering wheel retract, the driver’s seat moves backwards to provide more legroom, and the PA slides up the dashboard to take control. It then becomes the vehicle supervisor and frees up the projection area under the dashboard for all occupants – including the driver – whose role switches to that of a passenger, as the concept is now in autonomous mode.
A simple sentence will interact with the vehicle, select a playlist, activate a film, video game or app, adjust the cabin temperature and lighting, make a phone call or send a message. The PA is equipped with voice recognition via natural language developed by SoundHound, a Silicon Valley startup and PSA strategic partner whose technology is destined for future models. It is based on ‘deep meaning understanding’ technology, said to be the only technology able to respond instantly to several questions asked in a single sentence, as a human being would. Deep meaning understanding provides the fastest voice recognition in the world and perfectly understands natural speech, in 40 languages.
The head-up display on the windscreen assists drivers with augmented reality, providing the most relevant information in the best place. For example, it projects navigation data directly on to the road, with arrows showing the route more clearly, along with one-way streets and any dangers to be avoided.
The all-electric drivetrain offers 0 to 62mph (100km/h) acceleration in five seconds and a top speed of 124mph (200km/h). Driven by 100kWh batteries, the 4WD drivetrain comprises two motors (one front, one rear) and develops torque of 800Nm and power of 340kW. The vehicle has a range of 497 miles (800km) under the WLTP protocol.
Quick charging technology recovers 370 miles of range in 20 minutes. For cable-free charging, the concept has an induction charging system where suitable road infrastructure permits.
“The year of its 100th anniversary, Citroen is projecting into the future two of key attributes of the brand’s DNA, building on the success of its range today: bold design and 21st century comfort – Advanced Comfort – with four seats featuring their own individual universes, all-electric drivetrain, a proactive Personal Assistant and autonomous driving technologies,” said Xavier Peugeot, head of Citroen product.