Automotive

Canoo goes desert warrior with stripped electric "skatekart"

Canoo goes desert warrior with...
The Canoo skatekart does its thing in the California desert
The Canoo skatekart does its thing in the California desert
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The Canoo skatekart does its thing in the California desert
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The Canoo skatekart does its thing in the California desert
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With all vital drive parts integrated into the e-skateboard chassis, Canoo has plenty of flexibility in mounting bodies
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With all vital drive parts integrated into the e-skateboard chassis, Canoo has plenty of flexibility in mounting bodies
The Canoo chassis will underpin not only the canoo but a full family of vehicle styles
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The Canoo chassis will underpin not only the canoo but a full family of vehicle styles
Sara Price prepares to take the wheel
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Sara Price prepares to take the wheel
The Canoo chassis can be powered by a 300-hp rear motor, 200-hp front motor or both
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The Canoo chassis can be powered by a 300-hp rear motor, 200-hp front motor or both
Sara Price paddles the unique Canoo around the desert
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Sara Price paddles the unique Canoo around the desert
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When Canoo presented its vision of subscription-based electric vehicles a year ago, its symmetrical, window-wrapped EV pod won our hearts as one of the cooler electric people-pushers on the horizon. What it didn't do was scream, "Turns on a dime!!" or "Dust-heaving desert dune buggy!" But underneath that glossy rounded trapezoid of mobility is a skateboard chassis capable of all that and more. Canoo recently gave the "skatekart" keys to pro driver Sara Price, and the results are mesmerizing.

Like any good skateboard e-chassis, Canoo's has been designed to underpin a family of vehicles, not just the canoo pod/van. It can accommodate front-, rear- and dual-motor configurations up to 500 hp. The integrated steer-by-wire system delivers precise, tunable digitized steering response and opens up flexibility in driver position and vehicle packaging, a point highlighted in Canoo's new video.

With all vital drive parts integrated into the e-skateboard chassis, Canoo has plenty of flexibility in mounting bodies
With all vital drive parts integrated into the e-skateboard chassis, Canoo has plenty of flexibility in mounting bodies

Because the Canoo skateboard houses the steering and all necessary drive components, including the transverse composite leaf-spring suspension, vehicle controls and crash absorption substructures, it can easily accept the spectrum of planned body styles ... or no body at all, just a barebones kart-style set-up with a seat and basic driver inputs bolted to the frame.

Price took the honors of full-throttle test driving on the hard-baked crust of California's Rabbit Dry Lake. In addition to pulling in compelling photo and video with help from a crew of collaborators from Canoo and video production company Porch House, Price walked away with a few grins and giggles.

Sara Price paddles the unique Canoo around the desert
Sara Price paddles the unique Canoo around the desert

"I was blown away by how fun it was to drive," she said. "The skateboard felt powerful, with smooth and dynamic handling, especially during high speed cornering. The drive-by-wire steering was something new for me, and it felt like it was built for the track."

We're not sure there are any subscription track-day services in Canoo's future, but the company does say the chassis is designed to support more than 3/4 of the most popular passenger and light commercial vehicles on roadways today. It also confirms that a sports vehicle will be included in its first wave of launches.

"By keeping the most critical and expensive part of the vehicle uniform in all our models, it allows us to rapidly and cost effectively bring to market a full lineup of EVs," Canoo chief Ulrich Kranz explains of the chassis.

The Canoo chassis will underpin not only the canoo but a full family of vehicle styles
The Canoo chassis will underpin not only the canoo but a full family of vehicle styles

The flat-packed chassis design will help Canoo maximize passenger and cargo space while maintaining a compact footprint. The transverse-mounted double-wishbone suspension with fiberglass leaf springs, in particular, contributes to the flat packaging, dipping below tire height.

Canoo plans a 2022 launch of the canoo people-mover (hopefully with a name other than Canoo canoo), before adding a last-mile delivery vehicle in 2023 and the sports model thereafter.

Watch the quick minute of desert demo in the clip below.

SKATEBOARD | HIGH PERFORMANCE VERSATILITY

Source: Canoo

View gallery - 7 images
7 comments
vince
I can't wait for Musk to try his hand at building a super quick AWD UTV. Something with 18 inches wheel travel and Baja ready.
paul314
It would be cool if they also sold the skateboard to (selected) resellers, so that you could get whatever body you wanted (and were willing to pay for) grafted on top. That would take things back in a way to the beginnings of the auto industry, when coachbuilders and chassis/engine suppliers weren't always the same company. Anyone with some basic tinbashing or composite layup facilities could make a plausible car.
Daishi
With big challenging problems sometimes it's easier to take them on in a way that doesn't depend on also solving other big challenging problems. This is true of people who claim to have massive breakthroughs in battery technology but need 4 billion in investment to start a new automobile company around the technology. I think this is also potentially true of launching a new auto manufacturer while trying to shift off of the traditional ownership model to a rental based one. They are planning to launch the van as a micro-bus that none of the people own? Are they going to be used for something like Uber pool? That seems like a really specific niche to limit your new vehicle sales to when you are fighting against the odds to survive the next 5 years. Creating a sales and service network with a target niche that small (even just initially) seems like another uphill battle. I think established auto companies with significant market power would struggle to make any significant change to the ownership model. Many people think this ownership model will shift once vehicles are autonomous enough to not need human drivers so they can be summoned cheaply when you need them and not need to be parked most of their ownership but this requires full autonomy which is again not a problem I'd try to fully solve out the gate in a startup company. In short nothing ensures failure like multiple difficult intertwined dependencies. You can work on multiple hard problems at a time but only if you decouple their outcomes.
mediabeing
Wow, but an unattractive thing it is.
It looks like trash. Way to go.
CraigAllenCorson
I wonder when, if ever, people will stop designing vehicles specifically intended to shred valuable and delicate ecosystems.
JustSaying
I can say this could be great for the 'Kit Car' builder, putting on your unique body style, but, what is its base model price? What is the range before recharge?
Christopher Smith
Needs a Roll Cage and a restraint system. I used to know a Pro Dune Buggy person who lost an arm at the shoulder in a Roll-Over. Did the Big Dunes. Vertical thrills.