Europe is famous for its historic cities, many of which retain an almost medieval layout with narrow alleys and cobblestone streets.
Along with other factors such as tightening emissions regulations and urban congestion, this has prompted European buyers to favor smaller vehicles that are easier to park and can pass through city centres. crowded streets more efficiently.
Indeed, unlike the Australian market, light cars and superminis (officially known as the A-segment in Europe) remain an important category with many options not being sold here.
However, in many cases, owning a car with 4 wheels below this segment A is still worth it. They are called four-wheelers, and several models of this classification, such as the Renault Twizy and the Citroën Ami, have received worldwide attention.
While tricycles have four wheels just like passenger cars, they have limitations in terms of power, weight, and top speed.
Technically, European regulations place tricycles in the ‘L’ category along with mopeds, mopeds and tricycles instead of the ‘M’ category reserved for passenger vehicles. often.
Cycle four is divided into two categories, namely, light quadruple L6e and heavy quadruple L7e.
Light tricycle electric vehicles cannot exceed 350kg unladen weight, although there is an exception for electric vehicles whereby batteries do not count towards this weight.
Regardless of whether the quad is driven by an electric motor or a combustion engine, the total power should not exceed 4kW and the top speed is limited to 45 km/h.
Heavy-duty tricycles are not restricted in top speed, but are still limited to a maximum power rating of just 15kW and an unladen weight of 400kg – extended to 550kg for cargo tricycles and There is the same exception as electric tricycles, whereby battery weight does not count towards this limit.
Since they are not considered passenger cars, the licensing requirements for tricycles in Europe are more similar to motorcycles than to passenger cars. In general, this means that in most EU countries, anyone over the age of 16 can drive a four-wheeler (without the need of another driver).
However, some countries have additional exceptions to this rule. For example, in France, lightweight quad bikes are classified as voiture sans permis (unlicensed vehicle) and can be driven by anyone over the age of 14.
Launched in 2020, Citroën’s Ami is a production version of the 2019 Ami One concept and is suitable for light tricycles. With a 5.5kWh battery, the Ami has a top speed of 45km/h, driven by a motor that produces 6kW of power.
Offering seating for two, Ami is very small in size at just 2.41m in length, 1.39m in width and 1.52m in height. Correspondingly, the 7.2m narrow turning circle allows you to easily navigate the narrowest streets of the city.
One interesting aspect of the Ami is its symmetrical design approach to reduce tooling costs and simplify manufacturing. The front and rear of the car are identical apart from the red lens to indicate the taillights, including the bumper and the underbody panels.
The sides of Ami also follow this principle. Cleverly, to make the doors identical, the driver’s side door is hinged to the rear, in a move that Citroën claims improves accessibility and in-car comfort, while the passenger side door is the original. the front margin is the same as on most cars.
In both cases, the side windows are also identical.
Citroën states that the Ami is geared towards the urban demographic and this includes everyone from teenagers who want to travel on their own to visit friends or go to school, a second vehicle for a couple to use. Used when performing shorter errands or business people looking to get around the city with peace of mind.
Correspondingly, Ami offers considerable levels of customization, including various accessories such as bag hooks, exterior stickers, and a choice of four paint colors.
Citroën recently unveiled a limited edition ‘Ami Buggy’, which replaces the standard Ami doors with a tubular opening that also features a fabric roof and gold-painted steel wheels. Limited to just 50 pieces, this version of Ami reportedly sold out within 18 minutes of pre-order opening.
In Europe, the Ami is available to rent or buy, with prices starting at 6000 euros (about $9000).
Peugeot/Citroën and Renault have long been fierce competitors, with each model in their lineup often featuring a direct competitor from the other side. Correspondingly, Renault has Twizy to compete with Ami.
In fact, Twizy is a much older design, launched in 2012 and has remained largely unchanged since.
Instead of having two seats side by side like the Ami, Renault calls the Twizy ‘1 + 1’, with a full-size seat in the front and a smaller seat placed directly behind to suit shorter people or children.
This allows for an even more compact size than the Ami, with a total length of just 2.34m, 1.24m wide and 1.45m high, facilitating a 6.8m turn.
Twizy’s design is perhaps even more different from a traditional car than Ami’s. While it doesn’t have any symmetrical body panels, the Twizy has a bubble-like bodywork with the wheels in separate crates, to give it more of a resemblance to a regular motorcycle or motorcycle.
In terms of powertrain, Twizy is available with options that meet both light and heavy tricycle criteria. The Urban 45 has a 4kW motor for a top speed of 45km/h, while the Urban 80 has a more powerful 13kW with a top speed of 80km/h.
Both variants are powered by a 6.1kWh battery to provide a claimed range of around 90 km. Cargo versions of these models are also available, removing the rear seats to increase load capacity.
The short answer to this question is no. The Australian Design Rules (ADR) or other relevant laws do not make any provision for a particular type of tricycle.
As a result, models like the Twizy and Ami would likely be classified as passenger cars, and on that basis would not meet the ADR requirements to be driven as cars on public roads.
Even if they can be sold in Australia, it is unlikely that they will sell in significant numbers. Australia is an open country, with no space constraints or tight streets like European cities, and the limited speed makes them unsuitable for anything but city centres.
With a hypothetical price in the $9000-$15,000 range, it might be a wiser decision to buy a used car that’s much quicker and more practical.
It’s also important to note that as four-wheelers, these vehicles lack many of the basic safety features that consumers expect from modern cars.