The Canoo is a car-membership you can use when you need and pause when you don’t

The Canoo is a culmination of a lot of good ideas and technologies, combined into something that creates a futuristic system around car ownership. With the Canoo, you don’t own a car, you own the right to a car. It’s as simple as not owning a tennis court but owning a membership pass that gets you access to one.

Announcing a strategic partnership with Hyundai, EV Startup Canoo is looking at revolutionizing the future with a car membership service that lets you own a car when you need one, and ‘pause’ your ownership when you don’t need one. Designed as a self-driving EV that can be summoned on command, Canoo’s membership service gives car manufacturers the ability to allow a small number of cars serve a wide variety of masters, while giving consumers the ability to own a car only when it’s convenient, and surrender it when it isn’t needed. This offsets a consumer’s need to pay a hefty lump sum of money for ownership and worry about things like maintenance, insurance, garage space, etc. The EV comes with a partner app that lets you own a car for a few months, conveniently giving it up if you’re shifting towns, going on a holiday, or say if you’re under a government-mandated lockdown and you don’t need your car for a month. Think of it as an Uber, but A. it’s a monthly membership, not a trip-based rental, and B. It’s YOUR car, but just under a more consumer-friendly business model.

Speaking of model (and this really isn’t my best segue), the Canoo’s design resembles a modern take on the VW Microbus, with the company’s branding manifesting itself in the design of the headlamps and taillamps. The Canoo is even fitted with seven cameras, five radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors that give it level 2.5 autonomy (a feature that Canoo hopes to roll out with its 2021 launch), although there’s a driver’s seat and steering wheel on the inside should you choose to commandeer the vehicle. Aside from its novel business model, the Canoo’s most interesting feature is its interiors, which features a C-shaped bench at the back, that turns the car into less of a bus/coach and more of a social space. “All seating is designed to feel more like furniture”, says Richard Kim, Design Head at Canoo. “The rear seats are more like a sofa to lounge on than a cramped and segmented backseat, and the front takes inspiration from mid-century modern chairs.” Its semi-autonomous nature and roomy interiors reinforce a steady direction that most electric cars have been taking over the past few years, of turning the car itself into an extension of a living room. Canoo’s interesting subscription-based ownership business model definitely brings a fair bit of disruption to the car industry, giving customers the freedom to own the car only when they really need it, and pause their ownership when they don’t. It’s a little like an exclusive club… except this one drives on four wheels and can transport you as far as 250 miles on a full battery!

Designers: Richard Kim & Canoo Design Team