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Electric Vehicle Startup Canoo is Looking to Reinvent the EV & Car Ownership Model

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【Summary】Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Canoo revealed its new electric vehicle that it hopes will change the way people get around. Canoo is also looking to reinventing the traditional car ownership model. The company’s first vehicle, simply called “Canoo” is not for sale, rather it's available only as a monthly subscription.

Eric Walz    Sep 25, 2019 5:30 PM PT
Electric Vehicle Startup Canoo is Looking to Reinvent the EV & Car Ownership Model

Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Canoo revealed its new electric vehicle that it hopes will change the way people get around. The company's unique electric vehicle has been designed from the ground up to carry people efficiency, taking advantage of the extra space made available by incorporating a fully-electric drivetrain into the vehicle's skateboard platform. 

The resulting design capitalizes on EV architecture in a way that provides significantly more interior space. 

Canoo is also looking to reinvent the traditional car ownership model. The company's first vehicle, simply called "Canoo" is not for sale, rather it's available only as a monthly subscription. Canoo created the vehicle for a world in which it says is becoming increasingly more "electric, shared and autonomous." 

Canoo is planning on offering a hassle-free EV subscription for one monthly price without any minimum monthly commitments. The subscription may include services such as registration, maintenance, insurance and EV charging, all from a single app. 

Canoo says it wants to do away with the stressful and often high-pressure buying process, as well as eliminating the financial burden of owning a vehicle.

The company designed and built its Canoo EV is just 19 months.

Canoo was founded in 2017 by two veteran BMW executives Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. The two left troubled electric vehicle startup Faraday Future to form a new venture called Evelozcity to build unique electric vehicles. Evelocity name was officially changed to Canoo earlier this year. Canoo's headcount has grown to 400, including top talent from the auto industry and ride-hailing companies.

"We believe that the potential of EV architecture can enable a post-SUV era that addresses the ever-growing desire for space and value," said Ulrich Kranz, describing his role as simply "In Charge at Canoo." "We promised a truly different approach for EVs, and our canoo proves that we can deliver on that vision. The unveiling also kicks off the period of beta testing, meaning we are on track for our launch date in 2021. We are very proud of the team. In my 30 years' experience, I have never seen so many quality achievements in such a short time."

Canno says there is no need for electric vehicles to look like traditional cars, yet today they still do. Instead, Canoo maximizes the unique benefits of EV technology by providing vehicles that have both a very large interior and very small overall footprint, perfect for crowded urban areas.

The minimalist design of its EV gives subscribers everything they need and nothing they don't. 

The canoo EV is the result of a completely re-engineered vehicle design, eliminating wasted space throughout the vehicle and providing exceptional utility to the user. 

By capitalizing on EV architecture, the canoo eliminates compartmentalization Canoo describes it EV as an "urban loft on wheels." 

The Canoo has the interior space of a large SUV with room for seven passengers, with only the footprint of a compact car. All seating is designed to feel more like furniture than traditional car seats. For example: The rear seats are more like a sofa to lounge on than a cramped and segmented backseat, and the front takes inspiration from mid-century modern chairs.

The spacious interior of the Canoo

"Cars always have been designed to convey a certain image and emotion; however, we chose to completely rethink car design and focus on what future users will actually need. Thus, we came up with this loft-inspired vehicle," says Richard Kim, in Charge of Design at Canoo. 

Canoo's vehicle is built on a proprietary "skateboard" architecture, which houses the batteries and electric drivetrain. The company sais that all of its vehicles will share the same underpinnings and different cabins or "top hats" can be mounted on top to create unique vehicles. 

The Canoo battery pack is fastened directly to the skateboard structure and avoids the redundant structure and space taken up by a separate battery enclosure. The battery provides torsional rigidity to the skateboard and to the overall vehicle. Since battery modules are directly mounted in the skateboard, the skateboard has more than one function as it also serves as the battery box. The skateboard architecture also allows for future models to use the same battery pack.

The canoo has an approximate range of 250 miles (EPA rating) and can reach an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes.

The fixed, flat skateboard allows for reduced R&D costs, efficient production and a better use of interior space. The skateboard houses the most critical components of the vehicle with a strong emphasis on functional integration. This helps reduce the total number of parts, skateboard size and weight. Canoo even designed a more compact custom suspension setup, allowing the company's engineers to make the passenger cabin larger.

The Canoo's "skateboard" architecture

Canoo's vehicle has a composite transverse "leaf spring" suspension that creates a completely flat skateboard platform. All of the drive components are contained within the platform. Canoo's skateboard is also completely self-contained, which means it can drive on its own, even before the body is placed on it. The skateboard is also set up in a way that it could support dual, front or rear wheel drive configurations.

Kim said the company implemented the "Bauhaus" philosophy, which is centered around minimalism and functionality. Kim said Canoo applied that same approach by providing seamless connectivity with the personal devices customers care most about – their smartphones. Canoo says users will be able to control the vehicle's non-driving features such as navigation, music or climate controls via a phone or tablet.

The Canoo Will be Autonomous Ready

Canoo claims its one of the first companies to integrate advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and Driver Monitoring—to enable the car to better protect the driver from roadside distractions.

The EV uses typical self-driving hardware, including seven cameras, five radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. The cameras provide surround-view images to the perception system, which employs deep learning algorithms to perceive the world around the vehicle.

The radars provide 360 degrees of sensor data for speed and distance measurement of objects, while the ultrasonic sensors are used for short range distance measurements for automated parking maneuvers. 

The suite of sensors is class-competitive to other Level 2 autonomous driving systems, according to Canoo.

In addition, Canoo's vehicles uses central domain controller allows the vehicle to be future proof. Canoo says its driver assistance features can be updated as the technology evolves.

Steer-by-Wire System with no Physical Connection to the Wheels

Canoo claims its vehicle will be the first true steer-by-wire vehicle on the market without a hardware connection between the steering wheel and wheels. This means the canoo steers by electric signals only. 

The system is fully redundant and offers weight savings and paves the way for autonomous driving. Since there no physical connection to the wheels, the steering wheel can be positioned to suit any cabin design and driver position. Future models with higher levels of autonomy may require no steering wheel at all. 

The steer-by-wire system requires no physical connection to the wheels.

The steer-by-wire setup eliminates the need for a mechanical connection, there is more freedom to arrange the interior space of the vehicle to provide customers with exciting new vehicle options.

After the official unveiling, the EV will undergo a comprehensive beta testing period in which all of the features and components are tested together in a fleet of custom-built canoo validation vehicles. 

Canoo's development engineers will evaluate the interplay of all parts and systems in Q4 of 2019, before the focus will change towards launch and production.

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