The race to dominate the electric delivery van market continues to heat up with the entry of startup Canoo which today revealed its own entry featuring Level 2.5 autonomous driving capabilities, appropriately dubbed the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle.
Canoo will join a growing mix of players set to bring battery-electric delivery vans to market, including established manufacturers like General Motors, Ford and Daimler, as well as newer players such as Rivian, which has a contract to supply 100,000 electric vans to online retail giant Amazon by the end of the decade.
The industry is under growing pressure to shift to electric propulsion for delivery vans for a variety of reasons, which includes new regulatory requirements. California, for example, plans to phase out the use of internal combustion engines in virtually all trucks by 2035. But there’s also the economic incentive of lower energy and maintenance costs that battery vans are expected to offer.
The company claims an owner could save up to $80,000 in costs over a six- to seven-year period compared to conventional vans.
Among the many battery-car startups, Canoo is a relatively recent entry. It started outlining its plans in early 2019, revealing its first vehicle prototype, also dubbed the Canoo, later that year. Looking a lot like a toaster on wheels, the company says it plans to offer the passenger vehicle only through a subscription model.
Canoo did not discuss details about how it will offer the new delivery van to customers, whether through a conventional purchase model or under subscription, as well. It did emphasize a goal of offering “best-in-class total cost of ownership,” however.
The van will share the same architecture as the passenger Canoo, a skateboard-style platform with batteries, motors and other key drivetrain components mounted under the floorboard.
The layout is similar to what other battery-electric vans are adopting, and allows for a much lower load floor than conventional vans. Meanwhile, like the passenger version of the Canoo, the delivery vehicle adopts a relatively boxy shape with the driver sitting close to the nose, further enhancing cargo space.
The van, said Canoo, was designed to target a wide spectrum of small businesses and, in particular, “last-mile” delivery services. There is significant flexibility to the design with lots of room for customization. The ability to pop open a side panel and create a window and window would suggest it might appeal to those who would turn it into a food truck. A statement from the automaker added that larger customers will “have the option to co-develop a custom vehicle.”
The flexibility includes an interior that can be used as a workstation, with room to the left of the driver where a laptop computer could be set up.
“We created our multi-purpose delivery vehicle from the inside out, with the ergonomics of the driver in mind and with attention to detail to help them be happier and more productive at work,” said Tony Aquila, executive chairman, Canoo. “The vehicle is affordable and offers greater cargo capacity than the current electric delivery offerings in its class. We aim to lower the total cost of ownership and increase return on investment for everyone from local small business owners to large fleets.”
Canoo did not disclose specific details on the van’s battery drive technology. The passenger-focused Canoo Canoo model will yield an estimated 250 miles per charge, with a single motor pushing 300 horsepower through the rear axle. That range should be more than sufficient for most delivery services, studies showing they generally average less than 50 miles use per day.
The battery pack could serve a dual purpose for operators, particularly those who might need power for tools and other electrical or electronic devices at a worksite. The Canoo van will feature bi-directional charging, providing energy through 120- or 240-volt plugs built into the vehicle.
Canoo expected the delivery vehicle to start at around $33,000, with “limited availability” starting in 2022 and volume ramping up the following year.