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Citroen 19_19 concept previews autonomous long-distance vehicle

14th May 2019 6:56 pm

Comfortable autonomous EV is meant to commemorate 100 years of the French brand.

Citroen has marked its 100th anniversary with the 19_19 concept, a vision for the future of inter-city travel with an extreme focus on comfort.

Named to mark a century since the company was founded, the high-riding EV was designed as a long-range companion to the previously-revealed Ami One city car and will be capable of fully autonomous driving.

Head of product, Xavier Peugeot, said that the 19_19 was “projecting into the future two of Citroën’s key genes: bold design and 21st century comfort.”

A fully-glazed suspended cabin sits on a new, modified version of Citroen’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension. The current form of the suspension is seen in the C5 Aircross SUV, with travel lines on the car’s body indicating exactly how much the suspension moves while the car is in motion.

The teardrop-shaped concept was inspired by the aviation world, with an exposed powertrain and roof-mounted LIDAR sensors meant to emulate an aircraft’s horizontal stabilisers. Front and rear LED light bars incorporate Citroen’s dual-chevron logo, extending outward to act as wing mirrors using built-in digital cameras, while the rear-hinged doors contain LCD screens.

The concept rides on massive 30-inch wheels with equally conceptual rubber designed in partnership with Goodyear. Each tyre uses embedded sensors to communicate road conditions to the car when driving in autonomous mode, and is made with a bespoke compound inspired by a natural sponge designed to improve traction in adverse weather conditions and reduce road noise inside the cabin.

“This project cannot be presented without thinking of Ami One,” Head of Exterior Design Frédéric Duvernier explained. “They are very complimentary. On the one hand, you have a small economy car; on the other hand, comfort.”

“I like to think about an egg, because there’s nothing so simple. We tell our designers not to overcomplicate that car – it’s easier to make a newer design by adding lines, but keeping it very simple and working with surfaces is what we really want,” he went on to say.

Citroen calls the 19_19, which will receive its public debut at the Vivatech technology show in Paris later this week, a “true living room on wheels” with an interior meant to feel like an extension of the passenger’s home.

Driver, front and rear passengers, each have drastically different seating positions to maximise comfort. The thickly cushioned driver’s seat is sculpted and partly displays its underlying frame for a sportier feel, while the front passenger gets a reclining chaise longue meant to mimic a business class airline. The two are separated by a marble-styled centre console made from lightweight composite. Rear passengers get a sofa-like bench with a bungee-like fabric mesh acting as both headrest and access to rear storage.

“It’s been a trend I think, the last couple of years, to take a lot of influence from house furniture,” Duvernier explained. “Here the team has pushed it as far as they could.”

The minimal floating dashboard is separated into several parts: driving elements are shown on a head-up display above the beltline; and a cylindrical display representing the “fifth passenger” AI assistant rises above the dashboard when the car enters autonomous mode. When the latter occurs, infotainment can then be projected onto the window beneath the dash, which also gives passengers a view of the road in front. Another digital display is built into the single-spoke steering wheel, which can be retracted into the dashboard when the car enters autonomous mode.

The all-wheel-drive concept, which is not expected to enter production, uses twin motors that produce a combined 462hp and 800Nm of torque. Citroen says the 19_19 will achieve 0-100kph in 5sec and a top speed of 200kph. A 100kWh battery provides up to a claimed 805km of range on the WLTP test procedure. Rapid charging should return as much as 612km range in 20min, and inductive technology could allow for cable-free charging.

Meanwhile, in India, Citroen has revealed that its first model for our market will be the C5 Aircross SUV. While the Citroen C5 Aircross’ India launch is still a while away (expected in September 2020), the French carmaker and Groupe PSA subsidiary has said that this flagship SUV will set the tone for the brand's journey in India, with India-specific models set to follow from 2021 onwards.

Also see:

Citroen C5 Aircross SUV: 5 things to know

Citroen C5 Aircross awarded 4-star Euro NCAP safety rating

Carlos Tavares, CEO, Groupe PSA interview video

Linda Jackson, CEO, Citroen interview video

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