The era for new and exciting automotive design is here. The mass electrification of the automotive industry comes along with it a brand new opportunity to reinvent what it means to be a car. Startups like Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian have made small but meaningful changes to the ethos of car design, helping pave the way for the traditional automotive giants like GM and Ford. Yet, with the exception of the Tesla Cybertruck, which many in the industry considered a transformative design, there’s still plenty of opportunities and room to grow for startups to shake things up.
Enter Arkansas-based Canoo, an EV startup that’s taking advantage of this new space for creative freedom with their line of electric trucks.
The startup, originally known as Evelozcity, was founded by Ulrich Kranz and Stefan Krause, two former employees of EV startup Faraday Future, yet switched to their current brand name which they felt was more evocative of the sustainable and relaxed feel of the cars they’re bringing to market.
Their initial product, the Canoo LV (which stands for Lifestyle Vehicle) set for initial production later this year, is a clear departure in design from an industry increasingly caught in homogeneity. Where most SUVs and lifestyle vehicles stick to the slight variations on the fairly standardized sloping roofline, the Canoo LV’s pill-shaped design was a much-needed departure from the norm. The plus-sign headlight and brake light design, combined with the gently curved, arch-roofline give the car an almost perfect symmetry from both the side and front profiles. The glossy black exterior (currently the only color the car is available in) in combination with the panoramic window arrangement makes the car almost improbably sleek. You can’t ask much from it in terms of aerodynamics, but the bus-like Canoo LV still finds a way to be streamlined and futuristic.
The interior is no less innovative. Aiming for spaciousness above all else, the interior discarded the previous three-row seating arrangement, instead opting for two front seats (driver and passenger) and a perimeter back seating arrangement “designed to feel more like furniture than traditional car seats.” The result is a more open seven-seat car that affords much more legroom than traditional seating arrangements. The theme of spaciousness continues through the use of the panoramic windows. The 22 windows (seriously, count them) provide an unencumbered 360-degree view of the surroundings for the passengers. The driver’s seat continues to integrate the panoramic windows through its implementation of a street view window situated below the car’s rectangular steering wheel. The infotainment center is also wonderfully contrarian, opting out of the standard touchscreens found in most vehicles and instead choosing seamless mobile connectivity via a Canoo app. Users control everything from music, to heating and air conditioning from their phones, which can be mounted on a dock in the center of the dashboard.
The Canoo LV driving specs are well balanced. The single motor produces 300 horsepower and owns a 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds. It also offers a range of 250 miles on a single charge. While this doesn’t touch the mileage of the rangier EVs in that market segment, it still delivers plenty of range for a vehicle of its size. In addition, the car charges to 80% in just 28 minutes using a fast-charging station. The company is also promising that the car will be the very first drive-by-wire steering system on the market, replacing previous mechanical steering systems with a completely electric one instead.
The drivetrain design is also quite noteworthy. It uses a skateboard design that lays the batteries in a flat rectangle with the wheels at each corner. This particular configuration allows the car to feel like an SUV while having the external footprint of a compact car. Due to the adaptability of this type of drivetrain design, Canoo is licensing the design to Korean automakers, Kia and Hyundai, as well as using a modified version of it for their upcoming pickup truck and delivery vehicle.
As far as safety is concerned, Canoo will ensure that its Lifestyle Vehicle will be equipped with 12 airbags, and an advanced driver monitoring system to ensure the safety of both the driver and their passengers.
The Canoo LV will start at $34,500 for a “Delivery” option that comes without the backseat, and it is expected that the seven-seat Premium option will be around 50,000. Cars are still available to preorder and the first 3,000-6,000 vehicles will arrive sometime this year. Canoo also mentioned a subscription option where buyers are able to drive the car on a month-to-month basis, as an alternative to a buy or lease option.
The Canoo LV is a vehicle designed to break the mold in terms of car design and succeeds wonderfully. What’s more, the car achieves this level of excellence without the use of extreme engine capabilities or record-breaking speed. At its core, the Canoo LV is an innovative, if contrarian design that will show automakers the realm of creative possibilities for a new and exciting era in the automotive industry.