The Unorthodox Canoo Pickup: A Powerfully Functional Workhorse

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This “Microbus style” EV pickup glides on an electric skateboard chassis.

“It’s a cartoon truck!”

“It looks like it’s going backward when it’s going forward!”

“It’s an old French bread truck!”

Well, it’s all three. With its “cockpit forward” layout, it’s a combination of an old VW bus and a Sherman tank (but we do wonder if the cab position makes it more dangerous in a collision). But while its looks are a wild departure from the pickup truck playbook, the Canoo is no joke. With up to 600 hp available, it’s an industry upstart that checks all the boxes for the commercial light truck market.

For a number of reasons, this could be the formula for the commercial pickup of the future.

The Innovative, Flexible — and Brilliant —  Layout

The Canoo pickup’s extended-cab 2+2 layout with a 6-foot bed, extendable to 8 feet. Canoo says the pickup can haul up to 1,800 pounds. Available with powerful rear-mounted 300-hp and 332-lb-ft motor, and all-wheel-drive versions delivering 600 hp and 550 lb-ft thanks to the addition of a front motor. The pickup’s 80-kWh battery is good for about 200 miles of range in the dual-motor version. Prices should start between $35,000 and $50,000 when it goes on sale in spring 2023.

A New Design Paradigm

Inside, the Canoo is sparse, deliberate and sleek. The seats are deep and sporty, and the tech is state of the art with a large dashboard display. The front seats are positioned safely behind the front axle—but their designs sell the forward control concept hard, with a bit of front overhang and a windshield that touches down way out at the vertical face of the nose.

Inside, lots of storage room and plenty of opportunity to customize for any application or task. Canoo Pickup’s extended-cab configuration provides space behind the front seats that can accommodate a pair of jump seats or be customized for anything you need. Upright van-based, forward-biased seating leaves room for a six-foot bed within an overall length of just 184.1 inches. That’s 21.0 inches shorter than today’s shortest pickups and it’s 6.0-10.0 inches shorter than we expect Ford’s Bronco Sport-based Maverick and Hyundai’s upcoming Tucson-based Santa Cruz pickups to measure.

Changing The Design Paradigm

Canoo’s Pickup is equal parts form and functionality. The bed features a center-split barn-door tailgate and a two-foot pull-out bed extender to fully support four-by-eight-foot sheet goods. The inner panels of the tailgate doors can be swiveled out and joined to contain this eight-foot bed load. The floor extension includes the license plate and redundant stop, turn, and marker lighting. A space-divider system keeps items separate and secure, and attachment points all over the bed floor permit installation of wheel chocks for bikes or quads, and more.

In that funny front, there’s a tool-storage frunk  that hinges down with panels that slide sideways to form a useful workbench. Six 110-volt outlets and multiple USB jacks are provided in this area to power tools — there are power outlets available around the pickup.

On each side of the truck, the pickup box wall can be lowered and flipped out to form work areas. A pull-out step with integrated storage and LED perimeter lighting illuminates the bed at night.

Canoo will offer a slew of options —  like a roof rack over the cab with other-worldly off-road lighting, a bed capper with a pop-up rooftop tent for overland adventures.

The compelling design, high degree of product standardization, and cost-saving innovations like selling a single exterior color with wraps that provide individuality seem to tilt the odds of long-term viability in Canoo’s favor.

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