Canoo introduces American Bulldog, but can it hold up as electric competitors enter the market?

  • EV startup Canoo continues to focus on commercial orders for its vans while also introducing a four-door pickup truck called the American Bulldog.

  • The company’s financial position remains precarious, with significant spending required in 2023 to increase production.

  • With the introduction of new models, Canoo will soon face a larger number of competitors in the passenger and commercial vehicle segment.

Canoo’s futuristic electric van was first introduced in 2019 and promised an innovative design, as well as an electric powertrain and a spacious interior – ingredients that seemed to appeal to a section of van life fans.

Since getting closer and closer to some kind of mass production, Canoo has shifted from potential retail customers to commercial orders. The most recent order of this kind was announced a few days ago. Prime Time Shuttle wants to buy up to 550 Canoo lifestyle vehicles.

The LVs will be used as shuttles in the Los Angeles area, but the company hopes to deploy them outside of LA in the longer term.

Just a few days ago, Canoo also announced that it had received EPA approval for its assembly site in Oklahoma City and delivered its first Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle (LDV) to the state as part of an order for approximately 1,000 units. The startup is currently in the process of hiring employees for its manufacturing facility in the state.

However, Canoo’s finances remain precarious.

a red car parked in a parking lota red car parked in a parking lot

Canoo has recently been turning to commercial buyers for its electric vans, promising big orders.canoe

The startup posted a loss of $112 million in the third quarter of this year, with $8.3 million in cash and equivalents remaining at the end of September. In the first nine months of 2023, Canoo posted a loss of $273.6 million on revenue of just $519,000.

“We are now in our production and revenue generation phase while we still have a lot to prove. We have worked for almost three years to get to this point,” said Tony Aquila, investor, chairman and CEO of Canoo.

Just a few days ago, Canoo also unveiled a four-door pickup version of its van that vaguely resembles one VW DoKa, dubbed “American Bulldog,” wants to capitalize on the electric pickup craze that’s currently gaining momentum in the market. The truck itself is based on the Screaming Eagle prototypes that were delivered to the US military for testing in 2022.

However, the company has not provided any estimates on production schedules or pricing.

Perhaps the company’s most famous news this year was the unveiling of personnel transport vehicles for NASA’s Artemis program. The first flight is scheduled for November 2024, with the electric shuttles taking over the role of Airstream RVs that have ferried shuttle astronauts to the launch pad in the past.

While this news marked the highlight of Canoo’s year in terms of public relations, it also underscored how the startup still relies on niche orders from commercial customers that are far from complete.

In some ways, it also reflects the typical problems faced by EV startups, whose future products were presented as a concept in one economic and consumer landscape but went on sale in a significantly different landscape and faced challengers from established automakers.

And like other startups with long product development times, the company is finding that the electric vehicle market is evolving faster than it can deliver the promised results.

In 2024, Canoo will face direct competition Volkswagen as the ID. Buzz goes on sale in the USA after a long development cycle. Canoo’s commercial vehicles will also face competition Rivian And BrightDrops Delivery trucks.

Given this competition, it’s appropriate to ask how Canoo plans to differentiate itself from much larger rivals in the coming years, as commercial and residential customers alike are more interested in price points and dealer support than innovation.

Will the demand for electric vans increase in the coming years? Or are most buyers still focused on crossovers and SUVs? Let us know in the comments below.

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