We don’t hear very much about Citroen here in America. That’s because the company has not sold its automobiles here since the Carter Administration. But they have a long and proud history on the Continent, where the iconic Citroen DS sedan was once the queen of the highways.
A few years back, Citroen positioned the DS as a separate division for luxury cars, much as Toyota created Lexus and Nissan begat Infiniti. The French are very good at many things. They make wonderful wines. They excel when it comes to the flying buttress. And of course, they have the Alps and the French Riviera. What they have never been good at is designing automobiles. Whether it is the Renault Twizy or that iconic Quonset hut on wheels — the Citroen 2CV — French cars are just…..different.
Citroen is working hard to change all that. Next week in Geneva, it will unveil a new all electric coupe it calls the DS E-Tense and a swoopy, sexy beast it is. Sure, the world may not need another two seat electric sports car, but at least this one doesn’t promise more than 1,000 horsepower or cost a jillion dollars. This is a car that a real person might actually be able to afford, assuming he or she is in the upper segment of the middle class.
According to Autocar, the car’s electric powertrain claims 402 horsepower and 318 lb-t of torque. It can go 193 miles on a single battery charge — somewhat more than that if the driver exercises some restrain when pushing on the accelerator. Double wishbone suspension is feature front and rear.
The car is only 15.5 feet long and stands a touch over 4 feet high. There is no rear window. The view behind is provided by a rearview camera and onboard digital display. Its tail lights are LED units embedded in the rear edge of the roof. Citroen says it took 800 hours to design the interior of the E-Tense. It features a bespoke time piece by BRM Chronographes that can be dismounted from the center of the dashboard and worn as a wristwatch.
The E-Tense will cause not a ripple of interest on this side of the pond. But it shows that electric cars are moving ever so slowly into the consciousness of mainstream automobile manufacturers. To those of us who follow such things, the pace of change may appear to be glacial, but changes are coming. The age of electric cars is about to burst over us like a tidal wave. Someday, our grandchildren will wonder what all the fuss was about.