It was an exciting time when Canoo went out for the first time with its Lifestyle vehicle, designed from the brainchild of the Volkswagen bus and other classic forward control vans and pickups, but with a modernized electrified power plant. However, its goals were quite stratospheric with plans for vehicle “tops” that could be changed when an owner wanted – including second owners and beyond – while keeping the same skateboard platform. As long as this idea remains, Canoo now looks more like a serious businessgoing public, forming a partnership with Panasonic for battery cells, and debuting two production-ready examples near their future factory in Pryor, Oklahoma.
A new path to a new type of vehicle ownership model
Before it was Canoo, Evelozcity launched in 2017 with Stefan Krause – who was previously Deutsche Bank’s chief financial officer – and Ulrich Kranz – a senior executive at BMW – leading the company after a falling out with their former employer, Faraday Future. With the arrival of men and several employees of Faraday Future, Tesla and BMW, Evelozcity was formed and presented itself as a new form of vehicle ownership.
They said they could change it up in two ways through the use of its skateboard deck with “vehicle top hats” that would replace traditional vehicle bodies and structure. Firstly, it would allow owners, first to last, to modify the body and interior design of the vehicle to suit their individual needs. From the delivery driver to the camper to the hunter who needed a truck, the body and its interior changed as needed. Second, instead of just owning the vehicle, the driver would be on a subscription-based model, with the goal of freeing “customers from the shackles of vehicle ownership” through a “hassle-free, no-commitment EV subscription for a months, affordable price and no fixed end date.”
Major company changes came quickly
Right after the start of 2019, major changes were underway. In March, the company was renamed Canoo, and in September its first prototype was unveiled. February 2020, Hyundai has announced that it is a partner with Canoo in the joint development of the skateboard deck for Canoo and Hyundai vehicles. In July 2020, Krause left Canoo, and in September Canoo began its merger with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp IV, which was completed in December and listed on NASDAQ under GOEV. At the same time, Canoo introduced a new prototype, the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle (MPDV).
Then 2021 started as badly for Canoo as it did for most of us, with Hyundai ending its partnership with Canoo in March last year. In April, Kranz not only resigned, but also an investigation into his merger with Hennessy Capital. Fortunately, in June Canoo finally received good news when it purchased land in Pryor, Oklahoma to build its Lifestyle vehicle with Dutch company VDL Nedcar, producing Canoo vans for the European market. Finally, in early November, they announced that Canoo would be moving its headquarters to Bentonville, Arkansas, with the added goal of building a manufacturing facility there as well.
Canoo right now
Although the original founders are no longer with the company, the subscription-based ownership model is still here, along with the plans for owners to switch “toppers” as they see fit. Additionally, Canoo plans to sell its vehicles directly, much like Tesla and Rivian currently do. At the time of this article’s original publication, the Lifestyle pickup truck was priced at $34,750 for the Delivery model and $49,950 for the Premium model. The base model will be somewhere in between with additional options to specify your interior using Molle system panels on the doors and other panels located in each version of the Lifestyle.
In March 2022, Canoo introduced two “Gamma” models, which they claim are production lifestyles in base and premium versions. The Premium trim was configured to be used straight from the factory while the base was configured as an RV with a roof top tent and ladder. From what we could see they looked a lot more like production than their previous models which were built out of fiberglass you couldn’t jostle in them and had a battery that only allowed 20 mph gusts a last time we saw them.
These Gamma model bodies were made of steel, featured fully furnished interiors, and Canoo allowed guests to hop on, sit down, and use. Although these two models could not be driven, Canoo said they have a fleet in their current Southern California office that will soon be ready to be driven by the media. These Gamma construction models are produced by an Arkansas builder and are entirely intended to be flown and used as their production counterparts will be in the near future.
Reusability, ease of maintenance and durability
The idea of reusability goes beyond the body, as we asked Canoo about their plans for the lifecycle of the battery, or rather battery modules. The modules are not part of a box, as you see with most EV manufacturers, which saves weight right from the start. Rather, the modules are structurally integrated and bolt to the deck of the skateboard. The modules are also scalable and modular to fit multiple Canoo vehicles and allow for other types of battery cell chemistries, such as solid state, as they arrive in the future.
Each module is currently made from 2170 round lithium-ion cells, currently supplied by battery partner Panasonic, but are “agnostic” and can be sourced from any battery manufacturer that produces the 2170 cell design. are also repairable, down to where each individual cell can be replaced as it deteriorates. This means that, rather than changing an entire battery module, only faulty cells could be replaced. While recycling and non-vehicular reuse of the modules are in their plans, Canoo wouldn’t divulge any information on these particular ideas, but reassured us that they are already considering them.
Body Swap takes on a whole new meaning
Going back to interchangeable “top hats”, Canoo is able to offer this unique service through the integration of its drive-by-wire system, motor controller, inverter, charger and of his suspension. in the frame of the skateboard. While the integration of motor drive, suspension and battery charging with this type of rig is nothing new, the integration of a complete drive-by-wire system the East.
The steering has no mechanical attachment to the front wheels while the front brakes still have a hydraulic connection to the pedal. Despite this, the hydraulic system will only be activated when needed or in an emergency, since the electric motors are quite capable of bringing the vehicle to a complete stop by remaining on the accelerator pedal. Much like your racing sim setup, the feel of the steering wheel while driving and its movements will be done electronically. The plan to ensure you never lose control is to have multiple redundant systems controlling brakes and steering, much like airplanes have had since the late 1950s with their electric flight systems.
Production targets for 2022 to 2025
With its Gamma-build vehicles ready, Canoo announced that it will ramp up production of its electric vehicles here in the United States and begin manufacturing at its plant in northwest Arkansas. Canoo also says he’s staying on target to bring its Pryor, Oklahoma plant online in late 2023. “Canoo is now able to issue guidance at a time when many other industry players are reducing their goals and projections,” said Tony Aquila, president- CEO of Canoo. “The company has now refined its manufacturing strategy and assembled a team to execute the 2022-2025 production roadmap.” The manufacturing strategy for 2022 is to start with 500 to 1,000 units and end with a production of 3,000 to 6,000 units. They also projected the following to 2025:
- 2023 target: 15,000 units initially at 14,000 – 17,000 per EOY
- 2024 target: 40,000 – 50,000 units
- 2025 target: 70,000 – 80,000 units
While the Lifestyle Delivery, Base and Premium vans are on track for a 2022 release, according to Canoo, they also plan to release an Adventure version of the Lifestyle vehicle. The Adventure will feature more ground clearance with a more muscular profile. The bumpers have been “upgraded” with an added metal skid plate for increased vehicle durability. No pricing or availability has been announced for this premium trim. Canoo also said they are still on aim to unleash a pickup-style body and the MPDV in 2023 as 2024 models, but no price, trim, or availability date has been set for either at the time of this article’s original writing.