Canoo to build with VDL before Oklahoma plant begins

The Californian-based eMobility startup Canoo has unveiled plans for the production of its vehicles. The Dutch vehicle-maker VDL will be Canoo’s manufacturing partner from next year. Canoo also has plans to produce in the USA.

VDL is to build the first Canoo model called the Lifestyle Vehicle for the US and EU markets. Plans call for up to 1,000 units in 2022 and 15,000 units in 2023.

In around two years, the startup also wants to manufacture its vehicles itself. For this purpose, Canoo has now selected the US state of Oklahoma as the location for its first own production facility, which the company is calling a “mega micro-factory” at the MidAmerica Industrial Park in the vicinity of the city of Tulsa. The Canoo-owned plant there is scheduled to open in 2023.

Canoo’s Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila announced these manufacturing plans at the company’s first Investor Relations Day. By building both contract and in-house production in parallel, Canoo aims to deliver on its commitment to start production and deliver vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2022. “This strategic partnership will enable us to deliver vehicles to market while we build our Phase 2 factory in Oklahoma. It also strongly positions us for geographic expansion in Europe and builds a lasting relationship with VDL Groep of companies.” Aquila said.

“Canoo’s bold approach to designing and building electric vehicles makes them an ideal partner as we work together to shape the future of mobility,” explained John van Soerland, CEO of VDL NedCar. “This partnership advances our strategic vision to provide a contract manufacturing solution and expand our expertise in the EV arena.” VDL NedCar, based in Born in the South of the Netherlands, says it has the only automotive plant in the Netherlands that performs series assembly for third parties.

It has now been just under a month since Canoo first priced its 2019 Lifestyle Vehicle. Depending on the variant, it is expected to cost between $34,750 and $49,950. As mentioned above, the company expects a market launch in the fourth quarter of 2022. Canoo has yet to give final data on the drive. The company still states 220 kW of power, 450 Nm of torque and a range of 400 kilometres as “expected specifications”. The energy content of the battery is said to be 80 kWh.

It remains to be seen at what price private customers will purchase the vehicle – Canoo has so far only published the price range mentioned above. There is to be a delivery, basic and premium variant of the vehicle. If the base price of $34,750 means the Delivery model, the basic private customer version price would be unclear. There would also be a lifestyle and adventure trim for the vehicle, but Canoo will not be revealing the vehicle’s pricing until the coming months.

Some changes have been made to the study, which was clearly placed as a practical van and people carrier for big cities. The bumpers, for example, have been adapted somewhat. The most striking change is that the Adventure version of the vehicle is now a good deal higher; the additional ground clearance is intended to increase its utility value off the road. However, the ground clearance is lower than on the pickup model.

The adjusted orientation of the model is likely due to the strategy shift under new CEO Tony Aquila. Aquila joined the management as executive chairman in late 2020 and was expected to use his investor experience to guide the company’s IPO. Behind the scenes, Aquila has been driving the company’s realignment – probably also given the expectations of the stock market. At the end of April, Aquila also officially took over as CEO from Ulrich Kranz.

In line with Aquila’s strategy, Canoo no longer intends to sell its electric platform to other carmakers but to focus primarily on selling its own vehicles to fleet operators in the future. There is also a fundamental change in sales. While Canoo’s founders wanted to offer the van exclusively on a subscription basis, Aquila is focusing on the classic sale of the vehicles. This shift in strategy was said to have soured the cooperation with Hyundai, who was to co-develop the platform since Canoo now wants to keep its platform for itself.

Canoo is already accepting pre-orders for the Lifestyle Vehicle (for a $100 refundable reservation fee), as well as for two planned derivatives, a multi-purpose delivery vehicle MPDV and the above-mentioned pickup truck, which are to follow in 2023.

including reporting by Cora Werwitzke (The Netherlands), (USA)


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