California startup Canoo is building electric cars with a skateboard platform that contains all mechanical components within the chassis.
This packaging helps free up more passenger space—Canoo estimates its first model will have the space of a large SUV with the footprint of a compact car—but it also means you can drive the bare chassis around with no bodywork.
Canoo released a video Thursday showing exactly that, and discussed more details of the skateboard platform in an accompanying press release.
The skateboard can accommodate front, rear, or dual-motor configurations, with powertrain components developed in-house, according to Canoo.
The dual-motor configuration is capable of up to 500 horsepower and over 300 miles of range, the company said. That’s with a rear “primary unit” producing 300 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, and a front motor producing 200 hp and 236 lb-ft. Motors peak at 97% efficiency, which is optimal for the urban driving cycles Canoo’s vehicles are designed for.
Canoo naked skateboard platform
A true skateboard platform leaves no room for a conventional steering rack, so Canoo used a steer-by-wire system. Eliminating the physical connection between the steering wheel and the road allows for greater flexibility in cabin design and driver positioning, as well as right-hand drive configurations for delivery vehicles, Canoo said.
The platform’s power steering is speed sensitive, and the number of turns lock-to-lock will be customizable depending on driver preferences and use cases, Canoo said.
It employs a double-wishbone suspension with two fiberglass transverse leaf springs, and dampers mounted to the frame. Leaf springs aren’t exactly cutting-edge technology, but this setup was necessary to package the suspension within the skateboard, according to Canoo. It eliminates the need for upright shock towers, keeping the suspension below the height of the tires, the company said.
Canoo won’t sell vehicles to customers. Instead, it will offer them on a subscription basis, beginning in Los Angeles in 2021. The company opened its waitlist in January, with a Tesla-like referral program that allows subscribers to earn points, boosting their position on the waitlist and offering the potential to earn prizes.
Canoo has said it will develop at least four distinct vehicles off its skateboard platform. It will also provide “engineering services” to Hyundai to help develop a vehicle based on the skateboard.