Hey there! With all the talk around electric vehicles these days, you may have heard some buzz about the startup automaker Canoo and their unique models designed around a modular "skateboard" platform. Canoo has some very cool and innovative electric trucks, vans and SUVs in development. But production delays have meant you can‘t yet test drive these EVs yourself.
So in this guide, I‘ll give you an in-depth preview of Canoo‘s various vehicles on the way, the advantages of their skateboard chassis design, and what the future could hold for the company as they work to get these futuristic electric cars on the road. Let‘s dive in!
A Quick Intro to the Canoo EV Startup
First, a little background. Canoo is an electric vehicle startup founded in 2017 in California by a team of auto industry veterans from BMW, Faraday Future and others. Canoo designed their models around an innovative "skateboard" architecture that houses the batteries, motors and other drive components in a thin, flat chassis. Different cabins or "top hats" can then be placed on this skateboard to create different vehicles.
This modular design allows Canoo to develop multiple styles of vehicle using the same core platform. So far they have revealed an electric pickup truck, a van called the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle (MPDV), and an SUV/minivan hybrid dubbed the Lifestyle Vehicle (LV). Let‘s explore each model in more detail.
Canoo‘s Electric Pickup: A Closer Look at the Features
Canoo is pitching their pickup truck as delivering full-size truck functionality in a smaller, "right-sized" package. It may not match the towing capacity of an F-150, but the Canoo truck packs some cool utility features into its compact footprint.
Powertrain and Performance
- Up to 500 hp motor planned, with available all-wheel drive
- Targeting 1,800 lb max payload capacity
- Tow rating goal of 7,700 lbs
- Shooting for 200+ miles per charge
- Battery size not yet disclosed
Smart Bed Design
One of the Canoo truck‘s coolest elements is its modular bed:
- 4 foot standard length, extends to 8 feet with fold-out floor panels
- Split swing tailgate provides extended cargo space
- Retractable bed sides become workbenches, with 4+ power outlets integrated
- LED light strips line the bed floor for visibility
Other Utility Features
Canoo has integrated a number of other handy features:
- Front storage cubby with fold-down work table
- Slide-out drawers doubling as side steps
- Roof rack with 18 sq ft of space and tie downs
- Designed to support camper shell addons
Clearly the focus is on maximizing functionality in a small, maneuverable package. It remains to be seen how compelling the truck will be versus full-size competitors or other EV pickups. But Canoo has some neat ideas here!
The Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle: SUV or Van?
One of Canoo‘s most interesting models is the Lifestyle Vehicle or LV. It‘s sort of an SUV, sort of a van, combining traits of both. Canoo plans to offer several variations for passengers or cargo.
Trims and Configs
The LV will come in these trims initially:
- Delivery – 2 seat cargo van with 1,464 lb capacity
- Base – 5 seat SUV-style model
- Premium – 7 seat luxury passenger variant
- Adventure – Off-road accessory package
Performance and Range
Canoo has suggested these tentative specs:
- Up to 350 hp motor
- 250 mile max range (some configs)
- 80% charge in 28 minutes (some configs)
- Total interior volume of 188 cubic feet
Inside, the huge panoramic windshield and raised seating give a "fighter jet" cockpit feel for good visibility. Safety tech includes 12 airbags and cabin monitoring driver aids.
Canoo MPDV: Built as an Electric Work Van
Shifting from passenger transportation, Canoo‘s Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle or MPDV focuses squarely on cargo and commercial use.
Cargo and Config Options
The MPDV comes in these configurations:
- Cargo van with 800+ cubic ft of cargo capacity
- Choice of 1 or 2 seats
- Available with racks, shelves and ramps
- Adventure camper van version
Designed for work duty, the Canoo MPDV incorporates:
- Fold-down work stations and device docks
- Modular in-cabin storage cubbies
- Cargo floor rails and hooks
- Up to 14 power outlets
Range and Charging Aims
Though not finalized, Canoo lists these MPDV targets:
- 200+ mile range per charge
- DC fast charging capability
Canoo‘s Skateboard Chassis: Benefits and Challenges
The core of Canoo‘s EVs is their flat skateboard platform housing the battery packs, suspension, steering and other key components. This design comes with pluses and minuses.
Canoo‘s skateboard offers some benefits:
- Adaptable – Different cabins enable vehicle styles using the same base
- Space efficient – Consolidates parts to maximize cabin room
- Simplified manufacturing – Common platform speeds production
- Lightweight – Composite skateboard structure reduces weight
But the skateboard brings production challenges:
- New processes – Canoo is inventing modular production from scratch
- Complex integration – Cabin swapping sounds simple but gets complex fast
- Unproven durability – Reliability over years remains uncertain
- Part sharing? – Unclear how many components carry over between models
On the whole, the skateboard is innovative but poses risks as Canoo works to prove it out.
Canoo‘s Struggle to Start EV Production
While Canoo‘s vehicles show promise, the company has struggled mightily with the pivot from concept to actual production and sales.
Setbacks and Headwinds
Canoo has faced major obstacles:
- Cash burn – Canoo spends over $100 million per quarter, necessitating capital raises
- Facilities uncertainty – Factory plans in Oklahoma and Arkansas facing delays
- Executive turnover – Many top leaders have left Canoo
- Missed targets – Production pushed back from 2022 to late 2022 at earliest
Given the pace so far, Canoo‘s truck and LV may not ship until 2023.
Keys to Success
For Canoo to succeed, they‘ll need to:
- Refine manufacturing to scale up skateboard production
- Carefully manage cashflow and pace of growth
- Start delivering sales revenue at volume
- Rebuild credibility by hitting milestones
What if Canoo Fails?
With the difficulties so far, Canoo could still fail and go bankrupt before production matures. If so:
- Their technology could be acquired by an automaker
- Another company may buy the Canoo brand
- Assets liquidated in bankruptcy
But Canoo‘s concepts seem promising enough for the ideas to carry on even if the current effort falls short.
The Road Ahead for Canoo‘s EVs
It‘s been a rocky road so far for Canoo on their path to make their funky-looking electric vehicles a reality. Where does the startup go from here?
Continuing to Forge Ahead
Canoo appears determined to get their pickup and LV into customer hands:
- Focusing resources on starting production of the truck and LV first
- Preparing to activate their Arkansas manufacturing facility in 2023
- Raising more capital to fund operations
Staying Nimble and Adaptable
As vehicles reach the public, Canoo will need to:
- Quickly apply feedback from real-world testing to refine designs
- Monitor vehicle reliability closely as data comes in
- Explore new applications for the skateboard architecture
Rebuilding Trust Over Time
Finally, regaining credibility will require Canoo to:
- Meet production milestones without further major delays
- Be transparent about capabilities and limitations
- Prove long-term skateboard durability over years
Canoo still has a shot at realizing their vision of uniquely styled, modular electric vehicles. But they have their work cut out to get there. The pickup and LV designs hold appeal – if Canoo can begin manufacturing them without running out of capital first. I hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of Canoo‘s EVs and the company‘s challenging path ahead! Let me know if you have any other questions.