10-year review on Citroën C-Zero electric city car

With the summer, we will be able to celebrate with the family the 10 years of use of our Citroën C-Zero obtained after a destocking of 149 euros per month. After almost 142,000 kilometers covered, it is now possible to appreciate the reliability of this electric city car, ordered at the end of June 2012 and which was sometimes intensively used.

A brief history of the Citroën C-Zero…

Like the Peugeot iOn, the Citroën C-Zero is none other than a rebranded Mitsubishi i-MiEV with 2 or 3 bits less. Among them, the removal of C (less powerful regeneration) and B (increased regeneration) conduction modes. Removal, yes and no, because it’s all there to work. You just need to change the grid and drive selector plate. That’s what we did.

In 2012, PSA was unable to sell the stocks resulting from an agreement with the Japanese manufacturer. Peugeot and Citroën broke rates in June. The first, lowering the price from almost 30,000 (excluding bonuses) to 10,900 euros, battery included.

The rafters themselves offered a rent with rather vague outlines, first for a rent of 90 euros, compared to the almost 400 euros requested previously. With a maximum of 20,000 km, the contract would end after 23 months with the vehicle being recovered by Citroën. In a few hours, the 200 copies found buyers in a real race against time.

…and our copy in particular

Faced with this success, the chevron brand extended the offer twice, with an increase in rents: 149 and then 199 euros. Not far from 580 C-Zero were thus sold during the summer of 2012. We managed to get ours for only 149 euros. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Lorraine to Brittany and had just resigned from my job as a journalist in the professional and leisure press.

Not ideal for a dealership. Nancy’s declined our LLD application for the city’s electric car. But not that of Rennes-Chantepie, who learned of the situation from an illustrious pioneer of electric mobility: Jérôme Fresnay, whom I thank again.

When the LLD deadline arrived, we were saddened to have to return our Bicho (the name we affectionately gave him). Against all expectations, Citroën offered the beneficiaries of its preferential offers the purchase of their copy converting the rent into credit for another 4 years, without touching the monthly fees.

In our case, the electric city car cost us 72 x 149 = 10,728 euros and some small administrative costs. Imagine those who managed to win the formula at 90 euros: 6,480 euros in the end for them. Little more than the second-hand price today, 10 years after receiving the vehicle!

The 3 lives of our Citroën C-Zero: Madame

I’ve had over 50 cars since 1984, most kept for less than 2 years. The son of a mechanic, he always wanted to discover new models, not necessarily recent ones, of all sizes (from the Renault Super 5 to the Citroën XM station wagon), from different eras (from the 1953 Citroën Traction to the Kia E-Soul from 2021), and powered by various fuels (gasoline, diesel, LPG, electricity).

The C-Zero was my first new car and the longest in the family. I had taken it to my ex-wife, replacing the XM break GPL she was using at the time. For my part, I had my Renault Kangoo Elect’Road 2002. My ex-partner used the electric city car on all her trips (commuting, taking the kids to school, shopping, hiking, etc.) for 3 years and approximately 50,000 km .

Citroën C-Zero

The only real breakdown dates back to this period, with an inverter that failed and was replaced under warranty. A recall was also orchestrated on this issue for these cars, as well as another on the brake vacuum pump. Madame has always loved this car. She even takes him back every now and then for a few weeks.


In July 2015, Madame decided on another life for her. Unable to recharge the battery easily at his new address, we agreed to a deal for me to take over C-Zero. Over a period of time I logged 100-135 km daily with this car. Following an article I wanted to produce, I found myself with an additional activity of distributing a daily newspaper.

Thirty kilometers to drive sometimes 7/7 for several years, in all weather conditions and without heating because it consumes energy and is useless when leaving the vehicle frequently. And this, also passing every day through forest paths and irregular roads. Our Bestiole withstood this without a problem for about 60,000 km.

She very involuntarily keeps the pains: torn carpet and a little wear and tear on the driver’s seat, a small cracked window in the front and a few bumps. But no real failure. Just the 12V battery to be replaced a few years ago when I started the car, leaving the ignition on, and this year, for the first time, the door lock battery.

On the other hand, due to intensive use to carry newspapers, and most of the time at night, I had to change at least one set of tires and the high and low beam bulbs every year. But only once the brake pads, last month, preemptively.


Having just obtained her B BVA (automatic gearbox) license, our 20-year-old daughter has just taken over the Bestiole, with over 141,700 km on it. She wanted to, and she didn’t see herself driving a car with a combustion engine. C-Zero will be updated gradually, starting with the small window first reported as a counter-visit anomaly during the technical inspection.

The young woman had already managed to discover the behavior of the vehicle as a follow-up, alongside her driving lessons. In August 2020, the health of the Li-Ion pack was checked with the La Belle Batterie diagnostic kit. At 127,747 km, the SoH (State of Health) was 75%. I still managed to shoot 90 km, after a full recharge, but in ideal weather conditions.

Our daughter uses the C-Zero for local outings, including going to work as a student. Ultimately, it’s one of the best uses that can be made of a 10-year-old electric city car approaching 150,000km. Under these conditions, reduced autonomy is not really a problem.

On occasion, however, you shouldn’t find this model for more than 3,000 euros, due to the already well-established obsolescence of the battery. Replacing it would cost a lot more. However, the 2012 and 2013 C-Zeros are shown most often at €6,000 and beyond.

Do we like :

– Driving experience,
– The behavior of the kart in curves,
– Easy to use,
– The materials used in the cabin that have survived the decade well,
– Reliability,
– Silence on board (no noise from furniture),
– Good space at the front for reduced dimensions,
– The modularity with the possibility of obtaining a good trunk with a flat floor by folding the seat backrest,
– DC fast charging,
– The original appearance,
– Mirrors that unfold and fold automatically.

We like less:

– Sensitivity to side winds that is accentuated even more with the clearance in the steering,
– Moisture inside the windows when the car is sleeping outside,
– Energy intensive and inefficient heating at sub-zero temperatures,
– The absence of driving modes C and B at purchase,
– An AC charger that is not powerful enough,
– The complexity of changing the front bulbs,
– The price of tires with flat patterns as well as unusual and different front/rear dimensions.

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