The Citroen e-Mehari – my thoughts

There’s exciting news today as Citroen might actually be building a car I like the look of – the e-Mehari. Dredging up the name of a fantastic 2CV-based model in its history is perhaps unforgivable but I must concede that this new model does hold some appeal – and does have quite a few Mehari styling cues.

Most interesting is that this will be an EV or electric vehicle. It was actually conceived by Bollore, which already builds a small EV car. PSA (the company that owns the Peugeot and Citroen brands) has merely squashed a C4-Cactus-esque snout upon it to create a new look.

Crivens! I actually like it!

Crivens! I actually like it!

It does look remarkably niche for a mainstream manufacturer and I must concede that I do wonder what PSA are up to. It has already dabbled with electric vehicles with the Berling Electricque, which didn’t really take off. It then went into a deal with Mitsubishi to sell the i-MIEV as the Peugeot iON and Citroen C-Zero.  A far better vehicle, but hideous pricing (£30,000 when launched, but now a far more realistic £11,995) and Japanese Kei-car looks seem to have kept buyers away. So you’d think that the last thing PSA would want to do is entertain another niche. Yet, with the e-Mehari, which appears to lack proper doors and a roof, that’s entirely what they’ve done. I do find this confusing. Nissan and Tesla have proved that if you want EV sales success, what people want is an actual, proper car with plenty of space. I’m not sure something that invites the use of the word ‘quirky’ is really going to do it for them.

Mind you, they’re already talking down production totals – 15 vehicles per day or 3500 per year seems vaguely possible. It’s clear it’ll never be a volume seller and PSA rightly admits as much. I can’t see a lot of profit in it though, especially at an asking price of 24,000 Euros, or £17,300 at current rates. Details seem a little sketchy, but it seems that you’ll probably have to pay another 80 Euros a month to rent the batteries, in a similar manner to Renault. This is disappointing and I’m sure it’ll harm resale values. What seems a reasonable extra cost for a brand new car becomes a millstone as that car ages.

A shame as with a 24kwh capacity, the range should be pretty good – over 100 miles should be possible on a charge. That’s similar to a Kia Soul EV or Nissan LEAF. It’ll be interesting to see if this is yet another EV failure for PSA, or whether this is the simple, frill-free EV that the market has been waiting for.

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