By Ben Klayman
DETROIT (Reuters) – Electric vehicle startup Canoo Inc on Wednesday said it will introduce an American-built pod-like electric pickup truck in 2023, following in the footsteps of several rivals also entering the most popular segment of the U.S. automotive market.
Canoo Executive Chairman Tony Aquila revealed the timing for the truck ahead of an Automobility LA event on Thursday. He said the Los Angeles-based company would begin taking pre-orders in the second quarter of 2021.
Aquila told Reuters he was aiming to launch the rounded, snub-nosed truck in the first quarter of 2023, and Canoo will build the vehicle in a U.S. microfactory it intends to open.
“This is like no truck you’ve ever seen,” he said in an interview. “It’s the size of a Ford Ranger, can take the payload of a full-sized pickup and (has) the turning radius of a Prius.”
Aquila told Reuters in December that Canoo, which subsequently went public through a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company, intended to introduce a pickup.
Pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. new-vehicle market, with Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Stellantis NV’s Ram brand dominating the gasoline-powered segment and generating large portions of those companies’ profits.
While GM and Ford plan to introduce electric pickups with the intention of continuing their dominance, Canoo, Tesla with its Cybertruck, and others believe they can carve out a piece of the market as EV sales increase.
GM, Tesla, and startups Rivian and Lordstown Motors Corp all plan to introduce electric pickups later this year, with Ford following in mid-2022.
Forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions estimates electric pickups will make up just over 1% of North American pickup production in 2022, rising to 5.7% in 2028.
Canoo’s pickup will join a lineup that includes the pod-like, seven-seat canoo coming in the second quarter of 2022, a delivery vehicle later that year and a sport sedan in 2025.
The pickup will be aimed at both consumer and commercial customers and has the potential to be a high-volume vehicle, creating the need for a small-scale, highly automated microfactory, Aquila said.
Canoo is negotiating with states about a potential site and the company will still use a contract manufacturer to build its lower-volume vehicles, he said.
Canoo has developed a “skateboard” – a low-rise platform that bundles batteries and electric motors with such chassis components as steering, brakes and wheels – on which a variety of vehicle body types can be built.
Canoo said its pickup will have up to 600 horsepower and an electric driving range of more than 200 miles (320 km). Aquila expects the driving range to be 300 miles or higher by the time the truck actually launches.
The pickup includes a six-foot (2m) truck bed that can extend to a fully enclosed eight feet. It also features front cargo storage area and a fold-down worktable with electrical outlets, flip-down side tables and a hidden step offering storage and access to the truck bed.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Chris Reese and Lincoln Feast)