Canoo manufacturers groundbreaking electric vehicles in Oklahoma. Its products are built on a dedicated battery electric skateboard that allows multiple configurations, depending on the needs of its customers. Ultimately, the Canoo lineup will include commercial and personal vans, box trucks, and even a pickup truck or two but for now the company is focusing all its energy on building vans that can be used by tradespeople and delivery services.
Walmart is a prime customer for electric delivery vans from Canoo as is Kingbee, a company that specializes in renting work vans to commercial customers. Kingbee has order 9,300 Canoo LTV 130 delivery vans with an option to purchase a total of 18,600 over the next few years.
The Canoo LDV 130
The LDV 130 (lifestyle delivery vehicle) comes with either a single electric motor rated at 200 hp or as a dual motor vehicle with a total of 350 hp. It features a 79 kWh battery which gives it 217 miles of EPA range. It has two seats, one for the driver and one for a passenger, a cargo area of 133 cubic feet, and maximum payload of 1,432 lbs.
Kingbee is a problem solver for small and medium size businesses. Let’s say you are a plumbing or electrical contractor who needs work vehicles. You can spend time shopping, comparing prices and options, and waiting for delivery. After that, you need to configure the truck to hold all your tools and special equipment items so you can find them when you need them, a process known in the business as upfitting. Then you want your business information displayed on the outside of your new vans because upwards of 30,000 people will see them every day and everyone likes free advertising.
You can attend to all those details yourself but that means you will need to take time away from your business to attend to them. By definition, if you are doing one thing, you can’t be doing something else. Kingbee takes care of all those purchase details, gets your upfit needs taken care of, gets the vehicles wrapped in your company colors with your logo on the side, and delivers them to you no matter where you are in the United States.
In addition, Kingbee can craft leasing contracts that meet the needs of business customers. Even short term leases are possible if that is what a particular business needs. One way or another, Kingbee takes all the burden of obtaining work vehicles off the shoulders of business owners so they can concentrate on growing their business. That’s an important benefit.
In a press release, Canoo said it has begun delivered vehicles to Kingbee consistent as part of its phased ramp-up manufacturing approach at its factory in Oklahoma City. Additional customer deliveries will be scheduled through 2024.
“We are proud that an increasing number of our vehicles are on the roads of America, and we are looking forward to our vehicles joining Kingbee and its impressive list of customers,” said Tony Aquila, CEO of Canoo. “Our vehicles are engineered for service workers, and optimized for safety, reliability, and comfort. This is what distinguishes our vehicles and provides a competitive edge for commercial fleet companies.”
As part of the agreement, Kingbee will purchase 9,300 Canoo vehicles with an option to increase to 18,600 vehicles, subject to availability. Kingbee will upfit, custom wrap, and deliver them as work-ready fleet solutions for companies across the United States.
“We are excited for the opportunity to help fleets transition to electric vehicles. Fleets of all sizes use Kingbee as a flexible option for vehicle acquisition, and we’re honored to be among the first to add Canoo to our EV portfolio,” said Scott Haslam, CEO of Kingbee Vans.
Canoo Struggles To Stay Afloat
Canoo is putting a brave face on things. The facts are that it is underfunded and struggling to get its vehicles into production. Walmart threw the company a lifeline more than a year ago when it agreed to buy 4500 electric vans for its delivery fleet. The company recently delivered three of its vans to provide ground transportation for NASA astronauts and the US Army is field testing a few of its vehicles to see how effective they would be in military applications. But none of those efforts are putting much cash into the company’s corporate coffers.
Unless something dramatic happens, there ‘s a good chance the company could go bankrupt this year unless it can start selling a commercially significant number of vehicles. Canoo could potentially be bought out by a larger company, one with significant manufacturing experience like Ford, GM, or Stellantis. Hyundai took a close look at Canoo a few years ago and seemed to be on the verge of establishing a partnership with Canoo, but ultimately decided against it. Now Kia is touting so-called purpose built vehicles of their own that, quite frankly, look a lot like the vehicles Canoo intends to manufacture. Make of that what you will.
Not every bright idea becomes a commercial success. Canoo may ultimately suffer the same fate as Tucker, a company that came up with a radically different automobile that made a big splash in 1948 but fell victim to financial woes before it could become a self sustaining business.
Around the conference table at CleanTechnica world headquarters, the Canoo model that gets us most excited is the pickup truck version teased several years ago. Sure, it’s not as robust as a Ford F-150 Lightning, can’t tow a freight train, or haul a load of pig iron, but it would serve the needs of lots of folks who need a light duty pickup once in a while, much like the much loved Chevy El Camino and Ford Ranchero did many years ago. Pickups today have reached monster truck proportions. That are lots of people who would appreciate an electric pickup for those who want to be able to haul stuff but don’t want to do a 13 point turn to get into or out of a parking space.
What Canoo lacks is a track record for affordability and reliability. Its vehicles are still unknown quantities. People want to know how they perform in snow and in cold weather. They want to know its weak points and how well the company handles repairs when the need arises. Until then, Canoo is an intriguing curiosity, one we would love to see gain acceptance among commercial buyers. 2024 may well be the turning point for Canoo, for better of worse.
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