Hyundai Adds Electric Vehicle ‘Skateboard’ Project With L.A. Startup Canoo To $87 Billion Mobility Push

Hyundai, fresh off its investment in a U.K.-based electric delivery van maker, has enlisted a Los Angeles startup to help create a “skateboard” platform the South Korean auto giant can use for a range of lower-cost electric cars and trucks.

Under the technical partnership, Canoo, which plans to start a subscription service for consumers to use its pod-like electric vans, will work with Hyundai and subsidiary Kia to modify the flat platform created for its futuristic vehicle that integrates the battery pack, motors and other key components. Hyundai isn’t investing in Canoo but instead paying an undisclosed amount for its engineering services.

The goal is to create low-cost common architecture from which sedans, vans, delivery vehicles or trucks can be easily produced, eliminating the traditional use of multiple platforms. Hyundai says it’s got plans to create a variety of purpose-built vehicles that could come from Canoo’s skateboard.

“We will collaborate with Canoo engineers to develop a cost-effective Hyundai platform concept that is autonomous ready and suitable for mass adoption,” said Albert Biermann, head of R&D for the Hyundai Motor Group. He didn’t specify a timetable for the project. Its goal is to reduce the complexity of EV production and allow for quick changes to the kinds of vehicles Hyundai and Kia as market demands and customer tastes shift.

The Hyundai Group has said it plans to spend $87 billion on a range of future-oriented mobility projects over the next few years as it adapts to fast-moving transportation industry changes. Those include its $4 billion joint-venture with Aptiv to speed development of self-driving vehicle technology; a 100 million-euro investment in London-based commercial vehicle maker Arrival; an air-taxi tie-up with Uber; and a $6.7 billion push to commercialize clean hydrogen technology to power trucks, cars and ships.

Canoo was founded in 2017 by a team of auto industry veterans, several of whom including Chairman Stefan Krause, Chief Ulrich Kranz and design boss Richard Kim, had worked together at BMW and EV startup Faraday Future. Rather than making electric vehicles to be sold to individual buyers, it’s planning a subscription-only business where vehicles are available for use when needed. Originally called EVelozcity, it came out of stealth as Canoo last year with a goal of "liberating you from the tyranny of auto ownership and the conventions of what a car is. A grown-up EV. Not for sale."

In January it began a free sign-up program for people interested to try its vehicles, which are to begin arriving in 2021. They’ll be produced for it under contract at factories in the U.S. and China.

“We have been working diligently to develop a bold new electric vehicle,” said Canoo’s Kranz. “Partnering with a global leader like Hyundai is a validating moment for our young company.

Source: Alan Ohnsman
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