For example, Citroën experimented with electric driving: Saxo Electrique came 66 kilometers away

The EV still had a long way to go

Citroën Saxo electric

The Citroën Saxo Electrique that was presented in 1997 was one as we often saw them in the 90s: a careful experiment with electric driving. For example, there was already a Fiat Panda Elettra in 1990 that you could even buy as a private individual, but most electrified cars from those years were mainly for small fleets of companies. In 2000, AutoWeek tested the electric Saxo, which, with a range of 66 kilometers, a power of 27 hp and a then staggeringly high amount of 60,000 guilders, showed that electric driving still had a long way to go.

AutoWeek organized a test in mid-2000 with four cars, each with an unusual powertrain, with the aim of choosing the concept with the greatest future potential from among them. The Fiat Multipla Bipower was eliminated due to the limited availability of natural gas (“Strange, we have large quantities ourselves”, we wrote), while the Volkswagen Lupo TDI 3L would only benefit the most frugal drivers. The winner was the trouble-free driving and petrol-sipping Toyota Prius, which we logically attributed the greatest chances.

Saxo fun to drive but too expensive and impractical

And the Citroën Saxo Electrique? “It is very fun to drive, but too expensive and impractical: it is not possible.” With that, the argument was settled for the time being. Not only for the Citroën, but – because of its somewhat unfortunate ambassadorial role – also for the electric car as an institution. It is precisely that fun driving that makes an EV attractive these days: the simple operation (engaging reverse was done with the push of a button!), the smooth acceleration and the beneficial tranquility on board. Smooth is still the opposite of smooth here, because we clocked the Saxo for its whisper trip to 80 km / h in half a minute and we recorded a top speed of 91 km / h. After such achievements, the Frenchman quickly had to get a power infusion; with a decent driving style, he only lasted about 66 kilometers.

Charging via 230V socket

Charging had to be done at the 230V socket and took seven hours. In short, you had to plan everything very well from your inter-municipal rides to make sure you could get home. Having to ring the doorbell somewhere armed with a reel for a few hours of electricity is not what you want, especially considering the enormous investment that the car required: 60,000 guilders! You also got the unpleasant prospect of having to replace the batteries every five years, which would come to a sweet 22 grand per time. Poor Saxo, you really meant well, but you just weren’t quite potty trained, to put it in puppy terms. A puppy is great, but you don’t want to spend years cleaning up his mishaps.

Technical data Citroën Saxo Electrique

Motor electric motor

max. power 20 kW/27 hp

max. torque 127 Nm

Dimensions (lxwxh) 3,718 x 1,595 x 1,379 mm

Weight 1,093 kg

0-80 km/h 29.0 sec

Top speed 91 km/h

Price fl. 59,385/€26,947 (2000)


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