It’s no longer about the fastest or most luxurious car. Citroën and BASF have unveiled their all-electric concept car oli, a manifesto to how much can be saved by reducing weight and resource usage. “This concept car shows what can be achieved when partners trust one another and are bold enough to tread new paths,” explained Uta Holzenkamp, President Coatings, representing the automotive team at BASF. “The result is an entire microcosm of ideas and solutions that goes way beyond the original concept.”
With speed limited to 68 mph and acceleration close to the classic 2CV model, the concept car gains a wider range and significantly improved battery lifespan. The minimalistic approach paved the way for a refreshing and innovative design. Various components have been radically reinterpreted and constructed by using materials in a different context. For example, the complete backrest is made of a flexible 3D-printed plastic material. The open lattice structure provides natural air flow, replacing all ventilators in the seat. For this, as well as to produce about twenty parts the competence of the 3D printing service office, Sculpteo in France, a brand of BASF, was used. And don’t bother looking for a sound or navigation system, because you won’t find one. After all, most customers have a mobile phone and portable speaker, which can be plugged in to the dashboard and automatically connected to the vehicle.
Another striking feature is that many of the new components are designed and manufactured from materials from the same chemical product family. Bonded and welded components made from different materials are a challenge in mechanical recycling. For this reason, the designers created as many components as possible from a single material.
This principle of simplicity was also implemented during production. With the driver and front passenger doors being identical, this saves on pressing tools and reduces complexity. The same applies to all wheel arches and bumpers. The oli concept car is proof of the fact that sustainability and an appealing design are not contradictory.
In addition to its product and engineering expertise, BASF was also able to contribute its design expertise through the Creation Center. “This is where the project was born,” said Alex Horisberger, Manager Industrial Design at BASF. “On a visit to the creative studio at Citroën, we were able to convince their designers with our materials and trend analyses. Working on the same level with Citroën’s interior and exterior designers was a personal highlight for me.”
Many BASF automotive solutions help implement this idea: Another high-performance plastic from BASF can be found in the rear armrests and the interior floor. Infinergy®, an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), is also used in running shoes and sports flooring. It is elastic like rubber, but lighter, robust, and highly resistant to abrasion. In oli, the material provides a pleasant yet stable surface in armrests and floors. Plus, it dampens noise and vibrations. Additionally, a special coating is applied to ensure an extra long life span. The water-based NovaCoat-P coating is ideal for protecting soft substrates against abrasion, UV radiation, dirt, and chemicals. And because the flooring is waterproof, it can be easily cleaned with water. This is where the integrated plugs made of Elastollan® come in handy, as they can be removed to drain water and dirt.