The CEO of startup Canoo explains why its bread-shaped electric cars with Netflix-style subscriptions can win where giants like Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac have failed

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Even as they seek to eliminate the internal-combustion engine, many electric-vehicle startups have tethered some part of their business to the auto industry’s traditions.

Though Tesla’s vehicles run on electrons, their body styles resemble those of gas-powered competitors (with the exception of the upcoming Cybertruck pickup truck). The same can be said of newer companies like Rivian and Lucid Motors.

Canoo, on the other hand, is making an almost clean break from how car companies operate today. Its debut vehicle has a nearly symmetrical shape that resembles a loaf of bread more than anything you’ll find in a dealership. And the only way you’ll be able to drive a Canoo (the vehicle shares a name with the company) after its 2022 release is through a subscription that can be canceled at any point after the first month.

Canoo has positioned its namesake EV as the next step in a lineage that includes the station wagon, minivan, and SUV — vehicles defined by their ability to hold more passengers and cargo than sedans. Its centerpiece is a flat, compact platform that houses all of the components needed to power the vehicle beneath the floor pan.

Such a design is often called a “skateboard” in the EV industry, and it creates so much extra cabin space that Canoo says its vehicle will be shorter than a Tesla Model 3 sedan but have more room for passengers than a Honda Odyssey minivan.

“Our design is, in a way, pointing toward the post-SUV era,” Canoo CEO Ulrich Kranz said in an interview with Business Insider. “With an electric powertrain, we could really open up more interior space.”

The skateboard platform allowed the startup to rethink the conventional vehicle-interior layout. The Canoo’s back seats are arranged in a semicircle, creating storage space in the seating area to complement the rear and front trunks (the area that would hold a gas-powered car’s engine is a storage compartment in many EVs). Canoo’s work caught the attention of Hyundai, which enlisted the startup to help build its own EV platform, and three other companies Kranz declined to name because Canoo is still negotiating with them. 

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Canoo believes it’s solved the car industry’s subscription problem

Canoo will not be the first automaker to offer an alternative to buying or leasing a car. Established players like General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Audi have tested subscription services in some markets, with mixed results: Book by Cadillac was put on hold in late 2018, Ford-owned Canvas was sold to Fair last year, and Mercedes-Benz Collection was shut down this summer.

Canoo predicts that its subscription model will thrive where others have failed, producing four times more profit per vehicle than a typical automaker earns.

Kranz said the company’s advantage lies in durability — he said due to its design and materials, each Canoo will last longer than the average gas-powered car — and the fact that it doesn’t have a dealership-focused retail infrastructure built around sales and leasing. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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