Hyundai partners with subscription-EV company Canoo to co-develop platform

The California startup Canoo emerged from its stealth mode less than five months ago (just 19 months into its existence) and presented a radically rethought subscription-based vision for getting around—including four distinct vehicles. 

That caught the attention of Hyundai Motor Group, and partnership between the two companies sounds equally on the fast track. Hyundai and Canoo Tuesday announced a partnership in which Canoo will provide “engineering services” to help develop an electric vehicle platform based on Canoo’s scalable skateboard architecture. 

Canoo electric car

As the companies put it in a joint release, the platform will “allow for a simplified and standardized development process, lowering vehicle price.”

Canoo is building its entire business on some ideas that most automakers haven’t warmed up to yet—like an all-inclusive subscription-based model, free of car ownership, plus driver aids like Tesla Autopilot and the encouragement of ride-sharing.

Canoo electric car platform

Canoo electric car platform

The architecture can be paired with any cabin design and a wide range of vehicle sizes, the company says, and it’s expected to bring both a simplified and standardized development process and reduced assembly complexity. 

The platform is also what is expected to underpin Hyundai and Kia Purpose Built Vehicles (PBV)—such as those shown by Hyundai at this year’s CES—that are intended to be self-driving. Additionally, it sounds like a good complement to the joint investment made by Hyundai and Kia last month in the UK commercial electric vehicle company Arrival. 

Hyundai PBV - CES 2020

Hyundai PBV – CES 2020

Hyundai said that with Canoo it will co-develop “a cost-effective Hyundai platform concept that is autonomous ready and suitable for mass adoption.” In September Canoo said that its drive systems are only up for “Level 2+”—meaning the driver would still be responsible and engagement would be expected at all times but some tasks might be automated.

Canoo plans to launch its service in Los Angeles in 2021, and is already cultivating a waitlist with Tesla-like referral perks. 

Although Hyundai did not disclose an investment amount—or even that an investment had been made—it said that this partnership is part of a recently announced plan in which Hyundai Motor Group will invest $87 billion in future growth and electric vehicles over the next five years.