Citroen Cactus Concept Revealed at 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

2013 Frankfurt Auto Show


  • Citroen Cactus Concept Picture

    Citroen Cactus Concept Picture

    Citroen Cactus Concept. | September 11, 2013

9 Photos

2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The Citroen Cactus Concept hatchback, which hints at a new simple design direction for the brand, debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.
  • A production version of the concept, called the Citroen C4 Cactus, is expected to debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show.
  • One intriguing feature on the Cactus concept is "Airbumps," a non-scratch rubbery exterior surface that has been called the automotive equivalent of bubble wrap.

FRANKFURT, Germany — The Citroen Cactus Concept hatchback, which hints at a new simple design direction for the brand, debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.

A production version of the concept, called the Citroen C4 Cactus, is expected to debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show.

One intriguing feature on the Cactus concept is "Airbumps," a non-scratch rubbery exterior surface that has been called the automotive equivalent of bubble wrap. Citroen said Airbumps is made up of air capsules that protect the body of the car and offer "personalization possibilities."

The side and rear windows and the B-pillars of the concept have been removed to let showgoers get a better look at the interior.

What they will see is a minimalist cabin where the instrument cluster has been replaced with a 7-inch screen and the gearshift lever is replaced with push-botton controls. The idea is to provide more spaciousness. In an unusual twist, the passenger airbag is located on the ceiling.

Citroen said the Cactus "presents a vision" for the future of the company's revamped C-line of vehicles meant to create a stronger brand identity with stylish design at a competitive price.

The Cactus is powered by Citroen's Hybrid Air drivetrain, introduced earlier this year, which the company says is capable of better than 94 mpg. Rather than a gasoline/electric propulsion system, Hybrid Air combines a gas engine with a hydraulic motor, which together weigh about 220 pounds, half the weight of a conventional hybrid. Most of that reduction comes from shedding the array of batteries in normal hybrids.

The power plant is actually much simpler than it sounds. Tanks located under the car are pressurized by a hydraulic pump and by kinetic energy generated by braking and coasting. The pressure is released as needed to drive the vehicle or assist the gasoline engine, thus saving fuel.

Either system can be used alone or in combination, with compressed-air propulsion most likely coming into play during acceleration or at low speeds, which the company says will be 60 to 80 percent of the time in city driving. At cruising speeds, or when the tanks are low on pressure, the internal-combustion engine will take over.

As with any concept car, it remains to be seen how many features of the Cactus actually make it into production, but Citroen is teasing that "more will be revealed" early in 2014.

Edmunds says: Regardless of what you think of the Cactus, Airbumps is a serious idea that Citroen has spent years developing. It may be an idea that others copy.

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