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Sparks

Canoo Has Made Another Sick Truck That You Can’t Buy

The American Bulldog is inspired by a vehicle made for the U.S. Army.

Canoo Bulldog.
Heatmap Illustration/Canoo

The electric vehicle startup Canoo Technologies has announced another extremely cool-looking pickup that you probably won’t be able to buy. On Friday, Canoo unveiled the “American Bulldog,” a gray, weatherized, all-electric pickup truck that the company says is inspired by a vehicle initially made for the U.S. Army. Here’s the hype video:

The American Bulldogwww.youtube.com

“Like the American Bulldog, this vehicle is loyal and courageous. It’s woven into the American spirit and reflects this country’s innovation,” Tony Aquila, Canoo’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “When we say ‘Made in America,’ we mean it.”

Ah, but do they? Canoo, which went public in late 2020, has hemorrhaged cash over the past three years and persistently struggled to produce and deliver vehicles. Briefly valued at more than $5 billion in 2021, it is now a $176 million company that sold shares at a steep discount earlier this year just to stay solvent. And while you can pre-order its Pickup Truck or Lifestyle Vehicle (basically a camper van) online, none have seemingly been delivered yet.

In fact, most of the people who have driven Canoos so far are U.S. government employees. Canoo is in charge of making the three astronaut-transportation vans for NASA’s moon-bound Artemis program, and it has delivered at least three of them. They seem to work! They look really cool! In September, NASA used them in a motorcade:

Two Canoo-made \u201cCrew Transportation Vehicles\u201d drive down a Florida highway while bystanders wave at them.Two of the “Crew Transportation Vehicles” that Canoo has delivered to NASA.NASA / Chris Chamberland

But we’re talking three (3) vehicles here.

Canoo is also collaborating with the Pentagon on a new style of battery pack, and it has sent at least one of its pickup-style Light Tactical Vehicles to the Army for “analysis and demonstration.” (The American Bulldog is supposedly inspired by that Light Tactical Vehicle.)

Canoo is supposed to deliver the first of more than 4,500 delivery vans to Walmart this year, but so far nothing has been announced. The automaker says that it is ramping up a major manufacturing facility in Oklahoma, which will eventually be capable of making 20,000 vehicles a day.

I don’t know. Canoo’s vehicles look so cool. The Bulldog, for instance, is like a 1990s Toyota Previa crossed with a Volkswagen Thing. But Canoo’s path is narrowing and it seems likely to become even more reliant on government contracts over time. Canoo’s target audience should be fleet managers at large companies that need to buy thousands of electric vans. (Like Walmart!) But just a few days ago, its competitor, Rivian, announced that it would start selling its vans — which were previously only available to Amazon — to other companies. Unlike Canoo, Rivian has already delivered tens of thousands of electric vehicles and it does not seem in immediate financial peril. It also hasn’t been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I’m rooting for Canoo. I want a small electric pickup as much as anyone. But I also know not to get fooled by vaporware — or, in this case, a vaporvehicle.

Green
Robinson Meyer profile image

Robinson Meyer

Robinson is the founding executive editor of Heatmap. He was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covered climate change, energy, and technology.

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