Citroen does not expect its modern version of the iconic 1960s Mehari convertible to become a high-volume seller, but the launch instead could serve as clever way to promote Citroen's uniqueness as a brand.
Citroen will mainly offer the beach buggy-like E-Mehari EV to hotels who want to rent a fun car to guests making short trips, especially when on vacation.
Even if Citroen only sells 20,000 E-Meharis, the automaker could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of rental customers who will learn about Citroen quirkiness and uniqueness as a brand.
"The E-Mehari is a way for us to talk about the image of Citroen," Citroen CEO Linda Jackson told Automotive News Europe. "It is not about its sales volumes, but the story that it tells. There is no better way than making it available to hotel guests to show what Citroen is about."
The E-Mehari, which is "modern, vibrant, and colorful," also reflects the "spirt, freedom and fun" Citroen is trying to convey as a brand, Jackson said.
"The E-Mehari will help to spread the word," the CEO added.
Citroen is building the E-Mehari at parent PSA/Peugeot-Citroen's factory in Rennes, western France, where the group also builds the similarly designed Bollore Bluesummer electric convertible.
Bollore is producing the car's 30 kWh lithium polymer battery pack.
With a top speed of 110kph (68mph), the E-Mehari has a battery range of 200km (124 miles). Charging takes from eight to 13 hours on a domestic socket.
Sales of the E-Mehari will begin in France in the spring and will then be rolled out across Europe before the end of the year.
Like its predecessor, the car has a raised chassis to enable it to go off road or onto the beach, along with interior color schemes inspired by water sports and waterproof, plastic-coated interior fabrics. Citroen said the body is made from thermoformed plastic that is corrosion-free, with maintenance-free paintwork and the elasticity to withstand minor impacts.
The roof can be folded away and cargo space can be boosted by folding the rear bench seat. The E-Mehari is 3810mm long, 1650mm tall and 1870mm wide.
The company built 150,000 units of the original open-sided, canvas-roofed Mehari between 1968 and 1987. The original model was based on the 2CV, another iconic Citroen car. The original Mehari had a diverse customer base and was sold in the U.S. as a rental car in places such as Hawaii.
A Mehari-styled concept was unveiled by Citroen at the Frankfurt auto show in September.