Canoo: Build for Mobility as a Service

Photograph of the Canoo

Upon launching the website it is clear that Canoo doesn’t want to be another electric vehicle startup. The first thing you’ll see is the payoff “Your electric vehicle membership”. Their goal isn’t to sell you an electric car but a quick, easy and affordable means of personal mobility. Their service and product are all designed around utility. Starting in 2021, they will bring a refreshing take on Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to life.

Utilitarian design

Inspired by the minimalism of the Bauhaus design movement, this car looks very different indeed. While most cars are designed to communicate the lifestyle choices and personality of the owner, this vehicle looks very functional. Its minimalist interior can seat seven people comfortably while the vehicle has the footprint of a medium-sized car.

Canoo’s first car is really meant to be used by different people for different activities and their design choices show that. The seating arrangement is changeable to cater to different needs. To make the car functional and have maximum flexibility Canoo has left out some items people have come to expect as standard for modern cars, like navigation and entertainment-systems. Canoo’s reasoning is that people have their smartphones to perform those tasks and not including them will also create cost-savings.
The goal of the design seems to be to create a safe, versatile and fun way to get people from point A to point B.

Mobility as a Service at its core

Canoo is clear about one aspect of their product: you can’t own it. It is a subscription-only car. Spreading out the high upfront costs of most electric vehicles is the most important reason for the subscription model, but it is far from the only advantage for its ‘subscribers’. The intention is to create hassle-free mobility when and how the customer needs it. Canoo will, for instance, provide an app to handle paying for charging the car, take care of the insurance and deliver maintenance services. This is all included in the monthly subscription.

Another interesting detail about Canoo’s service is the option to sublease a vehicle to others when the customer isn’t using it. The idea is that, to get the most use out of a vehicle, it should be shared with as many users as possible. Thereby minimizing the cost of the subscription for the subscriber, while offering the vehicle up to be used by people who want to pay peruse. This car sharing is also possible for other car owners or leasers via apps like Snappcar, but what makes the Canoo unique is that they build this option as part of their subscription service.

A long road ahead

2021 is still quite a long way off, but Canoo has already made some steps towards commercial production. Their rollout strategy is focussed on particular cities, much like Riversimple’s Rasa, another subscription-only car. They will start with Los Angeles and continue rolling out the cars in cities with high electric vehicle adoption rates.
With some refreshing ideas and some serious backing, Canoo is a startup to watch within the Mobility as a Service space.