No one does “weird” better than the French! And Citroën has proven itself by making the most radical automobiles for a long, long time. Whether it was the Citroën 2CV that brought bold things in the 1930s and the Citroën DS of the 1950s that was full of innovative and never-before-seen features, this French automaker has always stood out. But now things are taking a rather interesting turn for Citroën with the advent of electric vehicles.
As always, they decided to stand out, and its tease was given to us by the cute little Citroën Ami EV which brought some pretty cool “symmetrical” features. Taking advantage of the success of Ami, Citroën decided to go big and bolder with the even more radical Oli EV concept. Citroën takes a simple and straightforward approach to show the world that autonomy, power, comfort, technology and luxury can be enough.
But in this quest for “enough”, Citroën has introduced some of the coolest design and material choices into its funky concept. And the interior of the Oli is a treasure trove of oddities. The dashboard is a cylinder, the seats are transparent and Oli’s on-board technology is your smartphone! Doug DeMuro would be overwhelmed by Citroën’s ambitious family electric vehicle.
Citroën Oli’s dashboard is a cylindrical beam
The Citroën Oli interior is anything but normal. The dashboard is literally a cylindrical beam that crosses the width of the “orange” interior of this cool concept. This was done to minimize the display of complex materials and technological features. Citroën states that the Oli uses only 34 components for the dashboard area compared to a compact sedan which uses around 75 parts for the dashboard configuration.
The harness also houses a host of USB ports to help power various electronic devices with ease and minimal mess. The central part of this “beam” neatly packs two air vents, directed towards the driver and front passenger. There are five rocker switches positioned in the center of this cylinder that take care of the climate controls.
The steering wheel is cool and quirky too. There is a flat top and bottom, but the line is gradual and you have to look twice to know it’s not a full circle! There’s a nice little joystick on the right that plans to make controlling various tech features an intuitive experience.
The cylindrical assembly is cocooned in the form of a 3D printed storage shelf in recyclable TPU. This bright orange layout is also accompanied by quirky “mushrooms” (as Citroen likes to call them) which are essentially thick strands of extended thermoplastic that can hold things in place while on the move. Strangely ingenious it must be said!
Your smartphone is the brain of on-board technology in the Citroën Oli
There’s no infotainment system or dedicated instrument cluster in the Oli. Instead, this funky car uses a smartphone dock that uses your phone to project the infotainment and instrument cluster onto a thin strip of digital display on the dash, which Citroën likes to call a smart band system.
The smartphone slides into its dedicated slot located in the center, just above the group of very “simple” rockers. Once the phone is connected, its computing power is merged with vehicle data and displayed on the elongated screen located just below the windshield.
Citroën has also shrewdly eliminated the generic infotainment system and its set of speakers. Instead, the Oli flaunts two cylindrical Bluetooth speakers that can be slid into either end of the original dash. This portable nature of the speakers also allows occupants to party outside of the Oli. This aspect is similar but more complacent to what we’ve seen in Rivian EVs.
Citroën Oli seats are the definition of creativity, innovation and Orange
Now let’s come to the most creative and innovative part of the interior of the Citroën Oli: the seats! And boy, these seats are unlike any other seats we’ve come across in vehicles. Co-developed with BASF, Thermoplastic Polyurethane is used to create the rows of canvas seats. Citroën uses tubular frames as the backbone of all seats which are then wrapped in 3D printed mesh backrests with integrated headrests for the front row.
The base cushion is made of recycled polyester. The second-row seats are more interesting as they feature floating headrests that retract upwards when the need to expand cargo space kicks in. The seats are lightweight compared to a standard set of car seats and according to Citroën, the Oli’s seat assembly uses 80% fewer parts than a standard assembly.
There is storage space between the individual rear seats. Additionally, there is a hidden storage compartment under the rear seats which houses a first aid kit. The front row seats are fixed to the floor using flexible TPU rings which also provide a cushioning effect, further increasing comfort levels.
Speaking of the floor, Citroën used a one-piece rubberized expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) that blends into the floor like a huge Lego brick. It’s very durable, waterproof, and even comes with drain plugs for hose cleaning. And the entire cabin has been painted in a vibrant orange hue that enhances its cheerful character.
Citroën Oli Interior adds creativity to durability and practicality
It’s rare to see such an aggressive car interior with its sustainability angle and manage to look pretty and futuristic. Citroën nailed it with Oli’s interior design. Everything from the design of the dashboard, the lightweight construction of the seats and the clever use of durable materials with practicality in mind, make the Oli’s interior the wackiest cabin and the most usable among all passenger cars. A lot of creative thought has gone into this French-style interior design, to bring a balance between “momentum”, “ambition”, “ingenuity” and “mission”.