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Video: Canoo begins road-testing of its EV compact van, fast-tracking production

The Canoo electric urban van doesn’t get much attention, but it is moving apace along an accelerated production schedule. The company, led by former BMW EV leaders, put the beta version of its EV into road testing this month. Could it be a sleeper hit in the EV market?

“The beta testing is an extensive process with the bulk of the testing happening over six months,” wrote Phil Weicker, in an email to Electrek. “On-the-road beta testing started on Sunday, Nov. 10 with the first drive and Tuesday, Nov. 12 was the first track day. Gamma testing will follow beta testing.”

Weicker is in charge of propulsion and electronics at Canoo. He previously served as director of battery systems at Faraday Future.

We did a significant amount of virtual simulation testing before we began beta testing with physical vehicles. As a result, we are seeing a high amount of fidelity in our beta testing so far compared to our expected results. The beta process is giving us the chance to do some initial tuning on the driveline response, and we are validating our chassis behavior.


The Canoo vehicle has the exterior footprint of a midsize passenger vehicle but maximizes the lounge-like interior space far more than any conventional car currently available. The vehicle is targeting 250 miles of range.

During our visit with Canoo a couple of weeks ago, we asked CEO Ulrich Kranz, formerly the chief of BMW’s i brand, about the urban vehicle’s driving dynamics.

It’s definitely not designed for the racetrack. But it is always good if a car has very good dynamic driving behavior. Of course, we have targets for the vehicle torsion or bending stiffness, the rigidity of the body. But that comes naturally with an EV powertrain, with the battery in the middle between the front and rear and packaged as low as possible. In our case, we have the slimmest skateboards or platform that exists today.

Kranz confirmed that the Canoo will have aggressive one-pedal driving.

The compact skateboard design of electric creates new opportunities for vehicle designers. Canoo’s rounded, friendly shapes represent the polar opposite of Tesla’s hard-edged Cybertruck design. The video of the Canoo on the road reveals how drivers can see through the front-end to the approaching roadway. “You don’t need park distance controls anymore because this where the car ends,” said Kranz.

Canoo EV front end

The vehicle, only available by-the-month for about $500, will have its first deliveries in 2021 in Los Angeles. The company’s subscription business model is aimed at lowering EV costs.

Kranz told us a couple of weeks ago that Canoo’s beta vehicles are built in Michigan. Mass production of the car, as many as 10,000 in the first year, will utilize a contract manufacturer. “It’s a well-known company,” he said. Kranz added that all of Canoo’s components and subsystems are designed to be easily manufactured.

Electrek’s Take

We’re cautiously optimistic that Canoo is on to something with its alternative vehicle design and ownership model. The team has a ton of experience from BMW, Uber, and Faraday Future.

Canoo’s approach fully embraces new modes of mobility and ownership. It remains to be seen how much of an impact it could have on increasing EV adoption. But we’ll keep an eye on Canoo’s progress as they quickly and quietly move through vehicle development over the next year.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.