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December 17, 2020 12:30 PM, EST

EV Startup Canoo Fast-Tracks Launch of Commercial Delivery Van

Canoo's first electric van model, called CanooCanoo unveils its first van model, appropriately called Canoo, at the AutoMobility LA auto show in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2019. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

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Electric vehicle startup Canoo Holdings Ltd. is talking up the commercial vehicle sales part of a business model that has attracted more attention for its planned consumer-subscription service.

The startup’s seven-seater van will be available for retail subscribers in early 2022, but it also will fast-track sales of a last-mile commercial delivery van by then, newly hired Executive Chairman Tony Aquila said.

“The volume on membership is still young in the industry. It’s also pretty heavy on your balance sheet,” said Aquila, who was an early investor. “I invested my money because of the technology platform that I saw, not the subscription model.”

Canoo, which reached a deal in August with a blank-check company valuing it at $2.4 billion, is set to go public this month. It’s cashing in on a financing boom involving special-purpose acquisition companies looking to publicly list electric vehicle startups.

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The 3-year-old company has yet to produce a vehicle. But it was founded by former BMW AG executives and has an agreement with Hyundai Motor Group to jointly develop consumer cars and commercial EVs with Hyundai’s Kia Motors Corp. affiliate.

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All of Canoo’s vehicles will use a standard “skateboard” underneath consisting of a battery pack, drivetrain and suspension. The company hasn’t said where its EVs will be made — or by whom. It also has yet to take any pre-orders for commercial EVs.

Canoo expects to introduce its first model — a breadbox-shaped, battery-powered seven-seater van — in Los Angeles and San Francisco first before branching out to the East Coast. Customers will pay a one-time membership fee and a flat monthly rate.

But to grow cash flow more quickly, Canoo also plans to speed up the rollout of a business-to-business vehicle in the form of a delivery van. The company said it will come in two sizes and start at around $33,000, with driving ranges from 90 miles to 230 miles on a single charge. It initially planned to start selling the van in 2023, but now wants to launch it a year earlier.

Tony Aquila

Aquila

“2022 is going to be definitely a limited production. It will be in the hundreds to a few thousands; it won’t be at full scale until 2023,” Aquila said, declining to specify Canoo’s targeted output.

Rival startup Rivian Automotive Inc. will launch a pair of consumer EVs next year and has an order for 100,000 battery-powered delivery vans from key investor Amazon.com Inc. Another competitor, Workhorse Group Inc., targeted delivery of 300 to 400 commercial vehicles this year but said it would fall short of that goal.

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Beyond the passenger and commercial vans, Canoo also plans to release a sports sedan in 2025.

The Los Angeles-based company has agreed to merge with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. IV, a SPAC that raised $300 million in an initial public offering in March 2019. Shareholders will meet Dec. 21 to approve the deal with the listing expected to take place Dec. 22 under the ticker symbol CNOO.

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