By on February 12, 2020


Developing a new vehicle platform in-house is an expensive affair, making the cost of producing an electric vehicle from the ground up a heavy weight to place on an automaker’s balance sheet. Margins for such vehicles are currently slim, if not nonexistent. No wonder everyone’s trying to free up cash.

And yet, because the world has decided EVs are the future, automakers can’t be without them. Ford recently partnered with Michigan startup Rivian to source a platform for an upcoming Lincoln crossover, and now Hyundai has followed suit.

Hyundai and Canoo. Best buddies.

It’s not entirely an off-someone-else’s-shelf proposition. Hyundai has forged an agreement with California-based EV tech startup Canoo to jointly develop a new EV platform from the firm’s existing “skateboard” architecture. Rivian, you’ll recall, has a skateboard of its own, and it’s not shy about letting others use it.

Last September, Canoo slid the platform beneath a box-like EV it intends to sell via a subscription model in 2021.

“As part of the collaboration, Canoo will provide engineering services to help develop a fully scalable, all-electric platform to meet Hyundai and Kia specifications,” Hyundai said in a release.

“Hyundai Motor Group expects the platform to help facilitate its commitment to delivering cost-competitive electrified vehicles — ranging from small-sized EVs to Purpose Built Vehicles (PBV) — that meet diverse customer needs.”

As Hyundai has earned a lasting reputation as a purveyor of value-laden models, a steep markup for a so-badged EV model wouldn’t jibe with the brand’s credo. The current Ioniq Electric is certainly among the cheapest EVs on the market, but one compact hatch — joined by the Kona EV subcompact crossover last year — won’t cut it going into the 2020s. Corporate sibling Kia Motors hosts a similar amount of electrification in its showrooms.

Both brands will have to up the ante to reach Hyundai Motor Group’s goal of drawing 25 percent of its sales from green vehicles by 2025.

The automaker said it “expects an adaptable all-electric platform using Canoo’s scalable skateboard architecture to allow for a simplified and standardized development process for Hyundai and Kia electrified vehicles, which is expected to help reduce cost that can be passed along to consumers.”

Hyundai didn’t mention when the first Canoo-based vehicle might make it to production.

[Image: Canoo]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

12 Comments on “Hyundai Taps California Firm for Joint EV Platform...”

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Like a high school prom night, no one wants to be the last person left out without a dancing partner.

    I am usually very bad at predicting the future, but I feel that these *rushed marriages* between huge, established carmakers and small technology startups, will end in a bitter divorce.

  • avatar

    I don’t see any problems with larger automakers teaming up with smaller EV companies. Clearly we are at the beginning of a new era in transportation and there is no crystal ball to see which “union” of big and small with have the best harvest. While there are renegades with more marketing effort than actual long term build prospects like Tesla (it is one thing to build a first generation of something; it is entirely another to have the funds to go into generation 2 and there Tesla has never gone), one of these pairings will produce fruit.

    I do have to take issue here about platforms – the real cost here is not to come up with a new suspension or frame – that has virtually no extra cost since companies have been doing this for nearly a century. The real cost is in the batteries and motors and the drive systems; but once the initial investment is spent, successive development costs plummet. These systems should be easily scalable – add more batteries – add more length in the frame rails – add more width – but the effective suspensions and mounting points are all there anyway. And unless batteries evolve significantly and in a short time frame, there isn’t much that will have to be developed from the ground up.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Neither am I, if they are smaller established companies. Or at least ones which already have some real-world proved product.

    My concern is with the startups. Again, let me clarify that many technology startups have been extremely successful.
    But with “startups” whose only product is promise-ware, I see huge cultural conflicts.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m trying to understand exactly what Canoo brings to the table, that Hyundai couldn’t provide.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Confused here.

    …All this blather about “skateboards” and an accompanying illustration of what is most certainly a frame. Am I to understand that there is a going to be a resurgence of Body on Frame construction for EVs, or are these terms, and illustrations, being used as visual shortcuts for highly versatile, yet difficult to visualize unibody/monocoque style “platforms?”

    • 0 avatar

      The body mounts hanging off the side indicate that it is an actual frame for a BOF vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I agree, so that works for a pickup application. The VW MEB EV “architecture” is always illustrated with frames. Most automobiles went unibody a long time ago for many and varied great reasons…not least of which is weight reduction. Are upcoming EV cars, based on these “skateboards” going to move backward in that respect?

    • 0 avatar

      It is more than a frame. This is where the battery pack lives. I believe they need to be protected to from damage. Makes for lower center of gravity too.

  • avatar
    R Henry


Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • AK: The Turbo 3 is a handful of things… nice, powerful, well built. Fun isn’t really one of them.
  • AK: I recently drove and ordered a new BRZ. I’m not sure any fwd Hyundai will give you more driving...
  • pmirp1: Lucid air majority share holder is Saudi Arabia. They sold majority stake in the company for over 1.3 billion...
  • ToolGuy: @MitchConner, That is a very thoughtful comment. Mine was kind of a throwaway. Now – why do you hate...
  • dal20402: 226 inches, and likely less interior room in most dimensions (except width) than my Bolt, which is an...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber