Canoo Electric Minivan has been unveiled by LA-based startup Canoo and is the world’s first subscription-based EV. When the Canoo Electric Van launches in 2021, users will be able to own a vehicle on a monthly subscription basis similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other technical services.
The company will include automatic vehicle registration, charging, maintenance and several other charges in the monthly fee and users will be able to pay their bills using a single mobile app.
According to the company’s founder Ulrich Kranz, they want to be the first EV company that makes a profit. Canoo Electric Minivan is designed around the Bahuas philosophy of minimalism, said Kranz.
Canoo is bringing a new dynamic to the automotive industry with its subscription-only model. Other manufacturers like Hyundai also have such a service available, however, it is mostly optional. In the case of Canoo, a Netflix-like subscription model is the only way to own their electric minivan.
While the price of the subscription has not yet been revealed, Kranz expects to make a profit while giving his customers a money-saving deal as well. The Canoo electric minivan is available for a test ride at the company’s LA headquarters. Potential customers and investors are welcome to give this VW Minibus inspired EV a try.
Canoo Specs, Details and Subscription price
The design of the Canoo looks symmetrical. The front and back of the car look almost the same when viewed from a distance. The doors of the car open in two ways, kind of like a Rolls Royce, which is a nice touch. The front and rear lights seamlessly integrate into the body design of the Canoo electric minivan, giving it a very modern look.
In the prototype versions, the electric minivan can be seen in two colors: black and white. While the former looks stealthy, the latter gives it a futuristic aura. The overall exterior of the minivan oozes efficiency. For instance, the wheels are closed off for better efficiency and the car’s front has a giant curve to let the air slide off easily. My guess is that these will help the car to extract as much juice out of its 80kWh electric battery as possible.
Canoo Electric Van, much like other EVs, has its battery pack and powertrain placed underneath the floorboard. The company refers to this as a “Skateboard” design and it is a modular one. The company will launch several models using this design but with a different Cabin body structure on top.
The electric battery, aside from providing a lower center of gravity, also helps in increasing the torsional strength of the vehicle. Meaning, under a heavy collision, the cabin is less likely to bend under the influence of external torque.
The company says that they will offer a different cabin design for their electric minivan in accordance with customers’ needs. What enables Canoo to be so flexible with their body design are a number of factors. First, the steering wheel isn’t physically attached to the wheels, instead, it is connected with a set of electronics, with redundancy built-in, that controls the wheels. This allows the company to experiment with the location of the steering wheel and also makes it feel weightless in operation. It might be a little problem for those who prefer precise feedback from their steering.
The second factor is the lack of a physical console. The dashboard has a dock that can accommodate an Android or iOS device. The entertainment systems, like the speakers in the Canoo electric minivan, are compatible with both mobile operating systems. Important information like speed and distance are displayed on the far front end of the car on an LED strip. This modular design further allows designers to experiment with cabin and interior.
The Canoo electric minivan will have a range of 250 miles, which would be more than enough for daily city driving. Using a fast charger, the minivan’s battery will be charged up to 80% in about 30 minutes. The inside of the minivan is spacious with a total of 7 seats, 2 in the front and 5 adjacent to the inside walls at the back of the car. Considering the flexible nature of the minivan’s design, I suspect that the interior is subject to change with the customer’s preference.
This particular model of the Canoo electric minivan uses a single electric motor at the back. However, the company says that the Skateboard platform is compatible with dual and front motor configurations as well.
The Canoo seeks to reinvent the way we see car ownership and driving in general. The cabin feels less like a standard interior and more like a living room filled with several spots for personal customization. It is not hard to imagine sitting in the car and hanging out while stopping by near a beach or a lake.
To make driving easier, the steering looks very handy and easy to use. There are no big buttons on it, only an airbag. The lower area near the front passenger’s legs is also partly visible to see more of the road beneath and around you. This will be immensely helpful in parking as the Canoo electric minivan is around six inches longer than VW’s Microbus.
The Canoo minivan will also come with Level 2 autonomy features like increasing or decreasing speed and steering on its own. The electric vehicle will use 12 ultrasonic sensors, 5 radars, and seven cameras to facilitate this feature.
The electric minivan will come with a video camera to monitor the user’s driving habits. It will note observe the user and will prevent the EV’s system from sounding an unnecessary alarm without any real danger.
Will The Netflix Like Subscription Be Profitable?
The Canoo Electric Minivan will first launch in places with a huge EV population. It will be available in the US and in China in popular metropolitan cities like LA, Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc.
In America, the East Coast and West Coast cities like New York, San Francisco, etc. According to a 2017 report, US cities like Detroit and Seattle represented a huge number of EV sales in the country.
According to Kranz, around 7 to 8 cities represent 70% of total EV sales so he’ll refrain from launching his electric van nationwide.
In China, cities Tianjin, Changsha, Chongqing, and Guangzhou have a good population of electric cars. The rate of installation of charging stations in China rose to around 50.5% in May 2019 in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin. According to the company, almost 18 cities consist of 75% of electric cars in China, so these cities will likely see the Canoo electric minivan first.
The realistic goals of Canoo is an advantage, according to Kranz. He realizes that making a good quality EV takes time and would like to refrain himself from “bragging” about imaginative production capabilities.
Surprisingly, the company designed and made a prototype of the electric minivan in just 19 months. Unlike Tesla and Rivian, which have their own production facilities, Canoo will make use of contractual manufacturers to churn out vehicles starting 2021.