There are countless electric vehicle launches these days – especially in China – and they all tend to deliver the same promise of revolution in the automotive industry, moving faster and bolder than dinosaurs like Volkswagen or Ford. But all they have in common is that they all try to send variations on a particular topic. Namely, high-end Ferrari cars that you or I will never be able to buy.
This is why the first Canoo California startup vehicle feels so refreshing. Unveiled Tuesday night, the company's first EV doesn't try to do much of anything but serve as a utilitarian (but still playful) way to get around them when it launches in 2021
"This is the first project on I've worked where I think you certainly need people, "says Diz stainless Richard Kim The Verge . Kim led the design of the BMW i3 electric vehicle as well as the hybrid i8 supercar, and was the chief designer of Faraday Future before leaving in 2017, people wanted it. "This is the first time I have to do a project where I think, 'Hey, people are actually going to need this. It would make their lives easier. ”
The first Canoo vehicle, also called the Canoo, is a sort of boxing, modern Volkswagen Microbus car. It has a windscreen on the windshield and is full of many more windows that follow to the right of the rear of the car, including a few that pop up, just like those old vans.
There is also a van in the interior of the car. But you won't find regular rows of seats behind the driver and passenger. Instead, Canoo designed a bench seat that curves around the entire rear end of the car. This creates a more community experience that could become animation if, for example, you travel with friends in a ride environment.
It also creates a more comfortable space that can be used when the car is parked. In fact, the vehicle looks like it could be as much fun to ride around as it would be to travel – something that the #vanlife beginner community might be interested in. The interior of each door is even lined with a board-style surface, which Canoo believes will offer people a way to customize a vehicle that they can only subscribe to from time to time. There are jump seats that fold into both rear doors, and two more that fold into the back of both front seats.
What I liked about the vehicle when I got the chance to go through the beta recently is that none of these things pop up for you. In fact, the interior looks dull at first. But there are all these little touches that feel delightful and maybe even useful which is a rare combination when it comes to cars sometimes.
Canoo says its first vehicle will offer about 250 miles of range, which takes out 80kWh of battery. A single rear axle motor will be able to generate 300 horsepower, although this vehicle is not for fast out-of-line performance. Instead, the pickup motor will help you make sure that the vehicle can move fast, whether it is running at a weight of 2020 kilograms (4 453 pounds) or a gross weight of 2600 kilograms (5,732 pounds).
This platform will also power future vehicles, which is part of Canoo's ground for potential investors. Like many of its startup counterparts (and now Volkswagen), Canoo has designed a one-in-one skateboard platform that houses a battery, electric motor, inverter and anything else that helps power the car and drive it,  This approach is what helps the car give such a spacious interior. Canoo says it's comparable to the interior of a large SUV, all in a total package that is only six or seven inches longer than a Volkswagen Golf.
The skateboard design also contributed to one of the most unique features of the Canoo vehicle, which is the attempt to sit in the front two seats. Because all the technical basics (including the HVAC system) are in the skateboard and there is no need for a engine compartment, Canoo has taken a ton of freedom with how it looks and sits in the front of this vehicle. On the one hand, there is another glass in front of your feet, which means you can see even more from the road ahead. And with the minimalist approach that penetrates the car, there are no touch screens – just one LED strip that separates the two windows in the front, which provides only basic information. (Canoo will suggest mounting a phone or table that can be attached to the dashboard on which the steering wheel sits.)
The car is equipped with seven cameras, five radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors, which Canoo claims will help to provide autonomous drive someday along the way. After the revelation, Canoo says it plans to start testing the car later this year, before its scheduled launch in 2021.
Kim is not the only Faraday Future forwarder in Canoo. In fact, the whole company was born of a major internal power struggle that nearly killed Faraday Future in 2017. Quick summary: in 2017, Faraday Future hired former BMW CEO Stefan Krause as its Chief Financial Officer in an attempt to get things right it was a sinking financial ship at the time. Krause brought along with him his former BMW friend Ulrich Kranz and together they set out to try to remedy some of Faraday Future's problems.
But Faraday Future founder Jia Yueting was ultimately not pleased with the opportunities presented by Krause, which included either relinquishing some control or bankrupting a startup. Krause and Krantz resigned in October 2017, and a month later Jia cheated on the couple in a press release alleging "fraud and bribery."
Cruise and Kranz quickly set up their own company called Evelozcity, and Kim joins them. a little after. After a number of other Faraday Future employees jumped on board to join Evelozcity, Jia sued the new startup rival and stated that Krause had misused poaching staff and had been stealing trade secrets at the door.
This case was eventually settled and in March this year Evelozcity dropped out of Canoo. (Although the drama doesn't stop there. Krause recently stepped down as CEO for "personal reasons.")
Canoo is reported to have committed about $ 1 billion to a group of unnamed investors, even though two people, those familiar with the Company's operations say that the startup has received only part of this funding. No matter how much it is imported, the startup still needs a lot more money and the right kind of industrial partners to be able to bring this first vehicle to market, let alone one of the others for which it has spent the last 19 months cooking. And now that the first vehicle is public, Canoo will have to balance the management of a growing team (currently around 400 people), look for a new investment, stay on course for production and manage expectations. Few, if any, EV starters have succeeded in this.
But whatever happens to Canoo, the first vehicle on the starter is a breath of fresh air. Whether they say it or not, most other EV startups want to be the next Tesla. This one obviously distorted this approach. The car of Canoo Microbus will go against the real restart of the classic Volkswagen and both companies will have to combat the decreasing trend of sales of vans. But this is a new kind of battle that I'll be glad to watch – along with seeing a startup attempt to prove a subscription model, something that many automakers have so far only tried with half a heart.
"If we wanted to make another car, what would be the point of that? "Kim asked as he showed me around the Los Angeles company headquarters earlier this month. Instead, he said, Canoo challenged himself to come up with something that is "functional, really meaningful" and has many uses. This part seems to be over. Now all the hard work remains.