Canoo goes desert warrior with stripped electric "skatekart"
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.
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.
"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 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.