Together with the 2008 Citroen Berlingo electric van, the new badge-engineered Citroen C-Zero will become the second electric vehicle in the French brand’s model line-up.
Based on the on the much-adored by the green crowd Mitsubishi iMiEV electric kei-car, the new electric vehicle is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor capable of delivering 47 kW (63 hp) in the range of 3000 to 6000 rpm and producing healthy 180 Nm of torque readily available from as low as 2000 rpm.
That is enough to provide the car with 15 seconds of 0-100 km/h acceleration time and 130 km/h of top speed. Well, it is definitely not a Lightning GT, but it will probably be just adequate for the busy streets of Paris and its suburbs where there is not enough room to show-off. However, overtaking on relatively busy rural road may become a real problem if you get stuck behind a tractor or an old semi.
Just like it is often the case with modern electric vehicles, the power is delivered to the rear (Oh, come on!) axle via a single-speed reduction gear.
The energy is stored in an 88-cell 330-volt lithium-ion battery pack, which is mounted right in the center of the vehicle. Citroen says that the C-Zero will be able to travel up to 130 kilometers over a standard combined driving cycle. So, the car seems to be good not only for your average daily commuter. In this baby you can even travel from Paris to Val-de-Reuil without risking running out of juice halfway from the destination point.
Perhaps, if you don’t count in such monsters as Tesla Roadster that were design to impress people with extremely heavy wallets with a lot of cash to burn, the form-factor chosen by the Japanese car manufacturer and its French ally seems to be the most fitting for a vehicle powered by electricity. While larger cars are usually bought for daily commuting AND (at least occasional) inter-city travel and thus need either a hybrid powertrain or a lot larger (and way more expensive!) battery pack, cars lime C-Zero almost never go further than a routine, um, route between a house in suburbia and an office in downtown so you can easily get away with a smaller (and way lighter!) battery pack that you will only have to recharge once a night without putting too much strain on city infrastructure.
According to the company, the batteries take about six hours to fully recharge using a standard 220V outlet in your house. If the batteries run dry somewhere in the middle of the city, it will take only 30 minutes to provide 80 percent of charge using a special 400V / 125A charger.
As far as I know, the French utility company EDF is working on increasing the number of E-charging stations available both in cities and along urban roads.
The 2010 Citroen C-Zero will probably be a pricey toy, but, when officially on sale, it will be eligible for a €5,000 tax break in France.
2010 Citroen C-Zero photo gallery: