Electric vehicle startups seem to be popping up all over the place these days, with all sorts of designs and focuses. The one thing that most seem to have in common, though, is their price: electric vehicles are notorious for being expensive, and that makes driving one out of reach for of a lot of people. But California startup Canoo is looking to change that. In fact, Canoo has revealed a subscription approach that just might make electric vehicles available to the masses.
Canoo unveiled its van-like vehicle (which is also called Canoo) to the public on Tuesday. It sort of has a similar feel to the Volkswagen Microbus, but with an ultra-modern take and a boxier design. One of the most prominent features of the vehicle is its windows– they wind around most of the vehicle to allow for a great view and lots of light, and a few of them even pop out. The front and rear profiles of the vehicle are nearly identical but for the positioning of the rear-view mirrors and the colors of the lights.
Inside it is designed to be really comfortable, almost as if you were in a living room on wheels. The rear of the Canoo comes with a U-shaped bench seat instead of standard row seats, with seating for 3-5 people depending on how many seat belts are installed. Then there are two more jump seats behind the driver and passenger seats, which means that the Canoo can potentially carry up to 9 people. The whole thing looks simple yet cozy, with an open, airy interior that should make being a passenger a really enjoyable experience.
Then there is the fact that the Canoo was built with autonomy in mind. It sounds like the company built the vehicle with the intent of offering full autonomy in the future, through software updates much like Tesla. Until that happens, its 7 cameras, 5 radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors will support an intelligent driver assistance system that is akin to “level 2 autonomy”.
Of course, Canoo has also released some specs for the more practical among us. Its 80 kWh battery should provide around 250 miles (402 km) of range, and reach an 80 percent charge in less than 30 minutes. The chunky little beast has a curb weight of 4,453 lbs (2,020 kg) and a gross vehicle weight of 5,732 lbs (2,600 kg).
The Canoo Subscription
One of the first things that Canoo explained at the unveiling was that this vehicle would not be offered for sale. Rather, the startup is aiming to provide a subscription-only approach that will make it much more affordable for the common man. While we do not yet have a lot of details on how much the Canoo subscription actually is or what it would cover, it sounds like it may include things like registration, maintenance, insurance management, and charging costs.
Basically customers would possess their vehicle in a way similar to a lease, but without a set time period. Instead of working with a car dealership, Canoo will help their customers directly through mobile apps or websites. The fact that Canoo will not be selling its cars should help the company avoid legal conflicts with dealerships in states with direct manufacturer auto sales prohibitions, which is a problem Tesla often has to deal with.
For now, it sounds like Canoo will partner with a contract automobile manufacturer to produce their vehicles, which might start in 2021. While they eventually want to offer different body styles, for now they will focus solely on the Canoo.