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Canoo and the DoD's Standardization of Battery Modules

Updated: Oct 26, 2023


Canoo Battery Module
A Canoo Employee Assembles a Battery Module. Source: Canoo

CORRECTION: In the original article, we made some assumptions and connections based on a comment made by Josette Sheeran, President and Director of Canoo. Canoo reached out to clarify she misspoke where we quoted her saying Canoo was one of out of two finalists in the JABS program. The original five companies are all still being evaluated in the Jumpstart initiative. We made changes and expounded on different areas to reflect this updated information.

 

Back in February of this year, Canoo was picked along with four other companies to participate in the Jumpstart for Advanced Battery Standardization (JABS) program. This initiative by the DoD sets out to not only make it easier for the private sector to bid to and share technologies with the various US Government branches, it also will help future battery advancements to be seamlessly integrated into vehicles with static structures, ensuring a more efficient and effective transition.

This week Canoo's President and Director, Josette Sheeran, expanded on this topic during a panel discussion at the Future Investment Initiative conference on October 25th, 2023. When asked about how electric vehicles might become more affordable, she answered that among other things, research and development of the technology would push the market to lower manufacturing costs by standardizing parts, products and processes in the more basic components. To drive the point home, she made reference to the JABS program to standardize battery modules.

The four other companies are as follows:

 

Josette Sheeran, President of Canoo
Josette Sheeran, President of Canoo
Right now, the US Government has a competition to choose the battery module standard. My company [Canoo] is one of five* finalists for that. Once a standard is set, it tends to flow through the industry... - Josette Sheeran


* Josette originally stated Canoo was 1 of 2 finalists, but apparently misspoke and meant to 1 of 5.

 


In July, Canoo announced they had "significantly expanded" their "partnership" with the Department of Defense. Although no offical word on what the scope of this expansion is, we believe it to be involvement with another DOD/DIU program called STEEP (Stable Tactical Expeditionary Electric Power)


On June 27th, a mere two weeks prior to Canoo's expansion press release, the DIU announced that GM Defense and Cummins Power Generation Inc. had been awarded contracts in the STEEP Program. Just what is this program and why do we think Canoo is involved?

The primary objective of the STEEP program is to develop a modular, vehicle transportable system that provides various forms of energy storage and management for tactical / mobile microgrids.

One more comment made by Josette in the above mentioned panel leads us to believe the expansion of their partnership with the DoD was an invitation to participate in the STEEP program in addition to the JABS program. When discussing EV mandates and the lack of charging infrastructure, Josette stated that "There are many innovative, we're doing one, sources of mirco charging networks that you can drop in." One could make the argument that that when she said "we're doing one" she meant the collective we, as in humans or perhaps the US Government. However, we interpret that to mean that Canoo is quite literally working on an a micro charging network that "you can drop in" which sounds a lot like the STEEP program.


 

You can watch and listen to Josette's participation in the panel to judge her comments yourself in the following video:





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An autonomous eISV for transporting electronic weapons and defense into battle is also being designed. While the Marine Corps may not be ready for such a vehicle, GM Defense will have one ready when the DoD is. But odds are, so will Canoo and Lucid.

In the meantime, STEEP operational testing and evaluation is expected within 18-24 months.

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“Our strategy is to learn how large of a building block we can leverage, how to package the commercial technology into non-proprietary defense interfaces, and how to integrate batteries evolving at the speed of industry into defense platforms with static structures,” said Daphne Fuentevilla, the deputy director of the Navy’s operational energy office in a statement at the time.

That strategy was put in motion late last month, when the DIU awarded GM Defense a second contract to prototype an energy storage unit for the DIU’s Stable Tactical Expeditionary Electric Power (STEEP) program to support tactical microgrid and energy management in remote, austere locations.

“This contract award demonstrates our ability to leverage advanced commercial technologies and investments from our parent…

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