Jay Leno checks out the first model from EV startup Canoo


Jay Leno is known for his love of classic cars, but on a recent episode of his YouTube show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” he visited startup Canoo to check out a prototype for the Californian startup’s first product, a pod-like electric car also called the Canoo that could be on the road as early as 2021.

What sets Canoo apart from other EV startups is its subscription business model. Customers will pay a set monthly fee that covers all costs, including registration, maintenance, insurance, and charging. Those subscribers won’t own their vehicles, but they will also be able to give those vehicles back whenever they want. Canoo’s founders feel this will appeal more to younger buyers than traditional buying or leasing.

Canoo electric car

Canoo electric car

Canoo’s self-named electric car seats up to seven adults in a pod-like body design to maximize interior space while minimizing footprint. The initial version will have 300 horsepower and a range of 250 miles, made possibly via a single electric motor driving the rear wheels and an 80-kilowatt-hour battery pack.

“It’s sort of reminiscent of a VW Bus,” Leno said in the episode, referring to the Canoo’s tall, one-box shape and rear-mounted motor. Canoo co-founder Richard Kim noted that the EV is a bit smaller than that classic people mover, however.

Canoo electric car

Canoo electric car

Because the car is built on a modular platform, other variants are also possible, Canoo has said. The platform is capable of front-motor and dual-motor all-wheel drive setups; Canoo had a dual-motor prototype chassis on display during Leno’s visit.

Canoo has also discussed different body styles, including a delivery van and a sleek, coupe-like vehicle. A steer-by-wire system, with no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the road, makes that easier.

Canoo electric car

Canoo electric car

The interior of the first model was designed to offer a lounge-like feel, with a wraparound rear seat that resembles a sofa. Canoo also didn’t bother with a native infotainment system. Instead, drivers  will simply plug their phones into the dashboard.

Canoo plans to outsource production, but hasn’t discussed the details of that. The startup does have a relationship with Hyundai and Kia; the Korean automakers plan to use Canoo’s skateboard-style platform for their own EVs.


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