Citroën imagines a cardboard car for a world without resources

Citroën envisions a car that is predominantly made of cardboard. A honeycomb cardboard reinforced with two plastic surfaces, strong enough to stand on without deforming it. This innovation, which is the result of a partnership with the German chemist BASF, as well as the presence of a vertical windshield to reduce the glass surface and save weight, gives the electric concept car Citroën Oli a futuristic SUV profile.

The Chevron brand and BASF succeeded in doing what was attributed to the Trabant, the iconic car of the former East Germany. But contrary to legend, this one was not made of cardboard, but of “duroplast”, a plastic made partly from cotton scraps from the former Soviet Union, recycled and worked into a compact frame. “More than a concept car that you’re used to seeing, it’s almost an expression of new lifestyles,” Anne Laliron, director of future products at Citroën, told Reuters.

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Envisioning the afterlife on a necessarily frugal planet, the designers of Dacia, Renault’s historic budget brand, have also attempted the exercise. And the fruit of their labor, the “Manifesto” concept car, revealed in mid-September, also looks like it came out of a “Mad Max” movie, the setting of which was a post-apocalyptic world where oil would be worth its weight in gold.

Dacia’s off-roader, on the other hand, displays a stripped-down silhouette that’s refocused on the essentials, with even a cork dashboard that allows you to attach a good old paper driver’s license if GPS navigation is impossible due to a lack of network.


A lightweight vehicle built to last

To meet the climate challenge and the lack of components, Citroën Oli, for its part, does not exceed a ton and 110 kilometers per hour, the electrical wiring has disappeared from the door panels – consisting of only eight parts against 35 on average on cars today – the key lock is back and the dashboard uses information from the driver’s mobile phone for communication or entertainment.


The counterpart, these are windows with manual on clamp. The vertical windscreen – which also makes it possible to reduce the impact of solar radiation in the cabin and thus the use of air conditioning – means that an air passage must be mounted on the bonnet to almost recreate a windscreen. vehicle aerodynamics.

Oil is also intended to be extremely recyclable and repairable, with the ambition to pass from hand to hand over at least three generations, i.e. half a century. “It’s an object that lasts that we want to be able to repair, always with the perspective of saying that we spent resources to make it. So we have to make it last as long as possible,” he continues Anne Laliron.

Respond to cascading crises

Conceived from 2019, the concept has seen its reason to be confirmed by the crises that followed, from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine, which caused several problems with the supply of raw materials or spare parts. “It is clear that what we have just experienced in recent years has further strengthened our intuition, our ambition”, added Anne Laliron.

Now one of the 14 brands in the Stellantis group, Citroën intends to keep this innovative place in the giant born from the merger between PSA and FCA.

“Giving relatively disruptive answers to society’s expectations, changes in times, in life, has always been in Citroën’s history”, continues the director of future products for the brand with chevrons. “This vocation, within a large group like Stellantis, the very soul of the Citroën brand, is extremely integrated (…) and sustainable.”

With Reuters (Gilles Guillaume, with Nick Carey in London, Editing by Kate Entringer)

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