Would You Trust an EV Made Out of Recycled Cardboard?

Electric vehicles are known for their sustainability, and not just because they’re completely free of emissions. Nowadays, more EVs are constructed with completely vegan materials. As one example, the upcoming Volvo EX90 will use recycled plastic bottles as the source of its interior plastic components.

Recycled interior pieces are one thing, but how safe would you feel driving a car with a recycled body? The French automaker Citroen recently unveiled a concept car with body panels from old cardboard. Here’s what we know about this strange cardboard EV so far.

A white Citroen OLI electric vehicle driving down a city street.
A rending of a Citroen OLI | Maison Vignaux @ Continental Productions

Meet the Citroen OLI

According to CNBC, the Citroen OLI can drive up to 248 miles on a single charge. You would need 23 minutes to restore 60% of the battery, which is pretty average by fast-charging standards. However, Citroen also says that this EV’s top speed would be limited to 68 mph.

So far, the automaker hasn’t released any details about the OLI’s powertrain. However, we know that it weighs around 2,200 lbs. 

Even though that’s lighter than your average compact SUV, some might have reservations about the OLI’s acceleration abilities. Still, we know that EVs are usually quite peppy from a dead stop thanks to the motor’s instant operations. The automaker says that OLI’s speed limitations are also necessary to get the best fuel economy possible.

This cardboard Ev is all about sustainability inside and out

What’s more interesting about the Citroen OLI is its exterior construction. It looks like your average SUV at a glance, with the addition of a small pickup bed in the back. The bed is removable and can be expanded over 3 ft long, plus comes with rails to help you secure any cargo.

The pickup bed, bonnet roof, and side panels were all manufactured from recycled honeycomb cardboard. The bumpers, doors, and glass panels are reportedly made from a lighter material compared to conventional EVs. The tires are also made from recycled materials and come attached to steel-aluminum wheels.

Sustainability extends to the interior as well, which has mesh-backed seats and a washable floor. When parts need to be replaced, Citroen says that each interior component can be recycled multiple times.

As for infotainment, Citroen says that the OLI has a ‘bring your own device’ interface. It comes with a standard projector, which we’re assuming you’d use in place of a touchscreen. 

A Stellantis press release tells us that the Citroen OLI also supports vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. It could potentially double as a backup generator for solar panels in the event of a power outage. The Citroen OLI also has a 240-volt outlet inside, capable of providing 12 hours of charge to a 3,000-w device.

Why cardboard for the body of this EV?

As apparent from the OLI’s sparse interior furnishings, it’s clear that Citroen’s goal was sustainability above all else. The automaker markets this vehicle as a ‘life partner’ that will give drivers a break from the overwhelming tech inside newer vehicles. Moreover, its sustainability ensures that drivers have access to less expensive repairs.

The CEO also stressed that affordability was another concern that should be considered in the EV industry. Lower production costs also mean that EVs would also be less expensive to purchase. Drivers are more willing to take a chance on an EV with a low MSRP as well as ownership costs.

U.K. drivers in particular also have to worry about premium tariff increases on public rapid-chargers. As a European automaker, Citroen believes that it’s essential to make EVs more efficient wherever possible for this reason.

Will this cardboard EV ever make it to production?

There are currently no plans to produce a consumer version of the Citroen OLI. However, we expect that future Citroen EVs will draw inspiration from it. Even if the automaker can’t create another EV as sustainable as this one, the OLI is definitely a cool concept car.

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