U.S. Electric Vehicle Startup Canoo Clinches Walmart, NASA Sales
To expand its last mile delivery service, Walmart, the world's second largest retailer, has ordered 4,500 electric delivery vehicles from the American startup automaker Canoo, bypassing several better-known EV manufacturers and opening a new section of the United States to electric vehicle production.
The agreement enables Walmart to buy the new Canoo Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle (LDV) with the option to purchase up to 10,000 units.
The Canoo electric vehicles will be driven by Walmart associates to deliver online orders sustainably, contributing to Walmart’s goal of achieving zero-emission operations by 2040.
Canoo’s electric Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle is an American-made, pod-shaped, commercial EV designed for sustainable last mile delivery with an optimized cabin and customized cargo space. Its proprietary multi-purpose skateboard platform architecture integrates the motors, battery module and other operational components.
The LDV is engineered with a range of up to 300 miles for trips that involve high frequency stop-and-go deliveries and speedy vehicle to door drop-off, including grocery and meal delivery as well as general merchandise.
The vehicle has seven cameras, five radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors onboard.
The cameras provide surround-view images, using deep learning algorithms to perceive the world around the vehicle. The radars provide 360 degrees of sensor data for speed and distance measurements. The ultrasonic sensors provide short range distance measurements for parking.
Canoo's plan is to launch the Lifestyle Delivery Vehicle in late 2022 with a starting price of US$34,750.
While the LDV is expected to begin road service in 2023, the companies plan to kick off advanced deliveries to refine and finalize vehicle configuration in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the coming weeks. Canoo anticipates starting production of the Lifestyle Delivery Vehicles beginning in the last quarter of this year.
The company also plans to produce vans for vehicle rental and ride-sharing services, a sedan and a pickup truck.
Canoo was founded in Los Angeles in 2017 under the name Evelozcity by Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. Krause worked for Deutsche Bank as its chief financial officer while Kranz worked for BMW as a senior executive. They met at rival EV company Faraday Future before leaving to form their own company, Evelozcity, in 2017. The new company received its primary funding from Chinese investor Li "David" Pak-Tam/Botan and German entrepreneur David Stern.
In March 2019 Evelozcity was renamed Canoo. In September 2019, the company presented its first vehicle prototype, the electric van Canoo, offered by subscription only.
Publicly traded on NASDAQ, Canoo is a high-tech mobility company with teams in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Now the company has chosen a hometown - right next to Walmart.
Canoo Chooses Walmart's Birthplace for Its Hometown
In November 2021, Canoo Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila announced that the company had selected Walmart's hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas as its headquarters. Aquila said Canoo will establish an R&D center and an advanced industrialization and low-volume production facility for small package delivery vehicles in the state.
The R&D center will be located Fayetteville, Arkansas and will support advances in vehicle electronics and powertrain. The industrialization facility will be in Bentonville.
"We are proud to partner with the State of Arkansas to develop American-made clean energy vehicles," said Aquila. "Our investment in these new facilities will accelerate the development of high demand delivery vehicles for customers around the world.
“We thank Governor Hutchinson and his team for their leadership and vision for the state’s role in the mobility revolution," Aquila said.
CANOO’S SELECTION OF NORTHWEST ARKANSAS FOR ITS CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS, TECHNOLOGY HUB AND DEVELOPMENT FACILITIES IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF WHY OUR STATE HAS PUT SO MUCH EFFORT AND ENERGY INTO COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT IN RECENT YEARS.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
"As a leader in technology with a talent pool that prioritizes innovation, hard work, and entrepreneurship, Arkansas shares many of the values that Canoo embodies, making this partnership a natural fit," Hutchinson said.
"Our LDV has the turning radius of a small passenger vehicle on a parking friendly, compact footprint, yet the payload and cargo space of a commercial delivery vehicle. This is the winning algorithm to seriously compete in the last mile delivery race, globally," said Aquila. "Walmart’s massive store footprint provides a strategic advantage in today’s growing ‘Need it now’ mindset and an unmatched opportunity for growing EV demand, especially at today’s gas prices."
In addition to dedicated fulfillment centers, Walmart uses 3,800 of its stores to fulfill online orders. The retailer does this using a combination of Walmart associates, independent contractors driving on the Spark Driver Network, third-party delivery service providers, and in some locations, autonomous vehicles and drones, to make deliveries. Through this delivery network, Walmart can reach 80 percent of the U.S. population with same-day delivery on a growing number of items.
"We’re thrilled to continue diversifying our last mile delivery fleet with Canoo’s unique and sustainably focused all-electric technology which will provide our associates with safe, ergonomic delivery vehicles," said David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation, Walmart U.S.
"Today, the closest Walmart to customers is right in their pockets - it’s the Walmart app. By continuing to expand our last mile delivery fleet in a sustainable way, we’re able to provide customers and Walmart+ members with even more access to same-day deliveries while keeping costs low," Guggina explained.
WE’RE ENCOURAGED THAT BY BEING LOCATED IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE CANOO HEADQUARTERS, WE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE TO COLLABORATE AND INNOVATE IN REAL TIME AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY TO AID IN THE CREATION OF MANUFACTURING AND TECHNOLOGY JOBS HERE IN OUR HOME STATE OF ARKANSAS.
Senior Vice President, Innovation and Automation, Walmart U.S.
The U.S. South-Southwest Opens to Electric Vehicle Production
The Canoo moves are part of an ongoing transformation of the 290 mile (470 km) U.S. Route 412 corridor, from Oklahoma through northern Arkansas to Missouri, into a center of electric vehicle research, development and manufacturing. In June 2021 Canoo selected Oklahoma as a site for a U.S. manufacturing facility.
The state of Oklahoma is giving electric vehicle manufacturer Canoo a record US$15 million from the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund as part of an incentive package valued at $300 million intended to bring thousands of new tech and manufacturing jobs to the state.
"Oklahoma has always been a pioneer in the energy industry, and this partnership with Canoo shows that our state is an innovation leader in electric vehicle technology," Governor Kevin Stitt said.
On June 17, 2021 Canoo announced it will build a new factory in Pryor, just outside Tulsa, Oklahoma to manufacture their future vehicles. The same day Dutch media reported that the Dutch company VDL Nedcar would start producing Canoo minivans for the European market.
Oklahoma has also agreed to purchase 1,000 of Canoo’s electric vehicles. But Canoo is still a startup company that has yet to generate a profit.
Adding complexity to the situation, Canoo is one of a handful of electric vehicle manufacturers under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after going public through deals with blank-check investment vehicles known as special purpose acquisition companies.
In April 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched its investigation into Canoo after the startup's merger with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. IV due to a string of executive departures, sudden changes to its business model, and class-action lawsuits brought by shareholders.
Regardless, a year later, on April 13, 2022, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) selected Canoo to supply crew transportation vehicles for its Artemis program. This NASA program will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
The futuristic transports with pod-shaped exteriors use zero-emissions technology. Required to seat eight, including four fully suited crew members, the Canoo EVs are replacing the agency’s Astrovan fleet, the silver 1983 Airstream vehicles that carried space shuttle crews to their launch pads.
The most visible use of the new Artemis crew transportation vehicles will be to carry crew from the Astronaut Crew Quarters to Launch Pad 39B. The vehicles also will be used to support prelaunch operations, training and launch countdown rehearsal tests. Canoo will deliver the fleet to the spaceport no later than June 2023.