Jay Leno dives into the world of subscription-based EV company Canoo

Back in September, I went down to Torrance, California to Canoo to take a look at what this subscription-only electric vehicle startup was doing. I determined that not only was its bread loaf-shaped van thing the second coming of the Toyota Previa, but that it had some interesting tech going on that didn’t seem all that crazy.

Now everyone’s favorite occasionally problematic internet car uncle, Jay Leno has decided to go down and check things out for himself, and he brought a video crew. The result is a 41-minute cringefest, but it shows off a lot of what I saw last year in a more advanced state of completion.

Even better, at first, we get to see the beta test Canoo (because the company and the vehicle have the same name) rolling slowly down the streets of a business park with a police escort and Mr. Leno behind the wheel, and while it definitely looks futuristic compared to other vehicles, it doesn’t seem totally out of place either.

In case you need a reminder, the Canoo is doing more differently than its styling, compared to other vehicles. For example, it’s the first vehicle approved by the DOT and NHTSA to have a purely steer-by-wire steering system. There is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the steering rack. This is cool because it means there’s no steering column to block the view from the front of the vehicle. 

I demand more loaf-shaped cars in the future.


Canoo

Another nifty feature is the designers’ decision to forgo any kind of interior screen. Their reasoning is that car infotainment tech develops at a much slower pace than other electronics, so why put something in a car that’s basically out of date by the time it goes on sale when your phone already has plenty of speed and a great screen?

Further, there is a really cool, almost dot-matrix readout that lives behind mesh on the dash bar to show off important info, but mostly your phone is doing the work of showing your speed, state of charge, etc.

Lastly, the company has engineered a facial recognition system that tracks your features and prevents the vehicle from giving you driver attention warnings if you’re actually paying attention. This is meant to prevent people from disabling safety systems out of annoyance.

The company plans to start offering its vehicles at the end of 2021, but if you’re interested in getting into a Canoo, you can register your interest on the company’s website now. 

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