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Electric multipurpose vehicle maker Canoo nears public debut

First vehicle reveal Dec. 17 will be followed by business combination vote

The Canoo concept vehicle resembles a Volkswagen Microbus. The electric multipurpose vehicle startup will reveal its first vehicle Dec. 17. (Photo: Canoo)

Startup electric vehicle maker Canoo will reveal its first vehicle on Dec. 17. Four days later, sponsors will vote on a $600 million reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. IV (NASDAQ: HCAC).

With a valuation of $2.4 billion, Canoo is the latest electric vehicle (EV) maker to take the SPAC route to public ownership. It follows battery-electric and fuel cell startup Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA), hybrid electric driveline producer Hyliion Holdings (NYSE: HYLN) and electric pickup truck maker Lordstown Motors Corp. (NASDAQ: RIDE) among others.

Canoo plans a business-to-business (B2B) last-mile cargo delivery vehicle in 2023. The company has not said where it will produce its vehicles.

Skateboard design

Canoo takes an “inside-out” approach to EV design. It starts with a skateboard chassis, which stores the battery pack, electric motors and other electronics that make the vehicle move. 

The skateboard’s size and weight are reduced with the use of fewer parts. That ultimately provides more interior cabin space. Drive-by-wire allows the steering system to be located in several positions. That allows flexibility in design of the body, or top hat, on the chassis.

Joint development with Hyundai

Formerly known as Evelozcity, Canoo is a German-American manufacturer based in Torrance, California. Founded in December 2017 as a split-off from EV maker Faraday Future, Canoo’s target market is lower- and medium-priced electric cars, minibuses and commercial vehicles. Its concept vehicle resembles a Volkswagen Microbus.

Canoo and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group (OTC: HYMTF), the parent company of Hyundai and Kia, are jointly developing a new electric vehicle platform based on the skateboard chassis. 

“We were highly impressed by the speed and efficiency in which Canoo developed their innovative EV architecture, making them the perfect engineering partner for us as we transition to become a front-runner in the future mobility industry,” Albert Biermann, HMC’s head of research and development, said in a February press release.   

Canoo plans to offer its vehicle on a monthly subscription basis that may include app-based services such as registration, maintenance, insurance management and charging.

Speed of a SPAC

Hennessy said Monday its registration to combine its SPAC with Canoo was declared in effect by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday. That allows the SPAC owners to vote Dec. 21 whether to combine with Canoo. An affirmative vote would create Canoo Holdings Ltd., which would trade under the ticker symbol NASDAQ: GOEV.

A listing called GOEVW reflects warrants granted to participants in Hennessy’s $300 million initial public offering in March 2019. For each HCAC share purchased, they received the right to buy an additional three-quarters share of HCAC stock. A later sale of shares at $10 each in a private investment in public equity (PIPE) raised an additional $300 million.

HCAC shares closed Monday at $18.20 up 35.32%.

Fuel cell startup Nikola going public with $3.3 billion valuation

Hyliion takes reverse merger path to public trading

Lordstown Motors going public in reverse merger

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.