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Will Canoo's range be too little, too late?

Updated: Oct 14, 2023



If you were to look over the Canoo Lifestyle vehicle landing page you'd see the range is being listed at 250 miles but if you read the footnote, you would see its an estimated number based on simulations and projected EPA calculations. From the few times we've been able to see the information screens of any of the gammas and compare battery % to estimated range available, 250 is probably fairly accurate representation of what the official EPA range will end up at.


The EPA range estimate is just that, an estimate! It's based on a mix of city and highway driving in mostly favorable temperatures, and it's far from perfect. Real world drivers will have such a wide variety of speeds, temperatures, hills and traffic conditions that an EPA estimate might leave buyers shocked by real world performance. InsideEVs took to the streets to perform their own tests of going an average of 70 MPH on highway to see how EVs were stacking up against their EPA rating. They admit the tests weren't very scientific with lots of factors out of their control but I agree with them that overall they are a useful comparison.



You can see from their graph that many EVs fell below EPA estimates while others seemed to enjoy miles far beyond them. I don't have the answer for a better system to use, other than advocating buyers educate themselves and understand what factors to think about when choosing a vehicle for their mobility needs. A person driving mostly in stop and go city streets in typical California weather is going to have a different experience than someone going predominantly 75 MPH with the heat full blast.


Although it's not completely relevant to the topic at hand, it is probably worth noting that manufactures will also show an EPA estimated efficiency rating given in MPGe. MPGe stands for "miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent” and it is a calculation of the energy obtainable from burning one US gallon of gasoline converted to the equivalent of using electricity. Burning gasoline generates heat, as does using electricity, so MPGe is basically the heat equivalent of MPG. One gallon of gasoline produces 115k BTUs and to have the same output from using electricity would require 33.7kWh.


In simpler terms, MPGe is the distance a car can travel on 33.7kWh of electricity. If the Canoo LV is expected to have 250 EPA range with an 80kWh pack- we can assume it will have MPGe of around 105. (80/33.7) = 2.37 | (250 / 2.37) = 105



Daryl Cagle, Cagle Cartoons

On the initial glance, 250 miles for a vehicle that isn't even in production yet seems kind of short, especially if you've never owned an EV before and/or are inclined to suffer from range anxiety. In comparison, a 2022 Honda CRV is projected to get 378 city/448 highway miles on a single tank and gas stations are located abundantly everywhere and almost always work, unlike current public electric chargers.


As it stands today, electric vehicles are not a one size fits all solution to mobility and for some situations they don't work at all. But for most people with access to home charging, they should work just fine for their average daily needs.


And here we come to a very sticky subject when talking about EVs - Needs vs Wants, or rather, perceived needs.


Bloomberg conducted a survey and nearly 2/3rds said 300+ miles of range would be adequate while less than 10% would settle for 200 or less. Cox Automotive found similar results: a desired average range of 341 miles!


The Canoo LV isn't the most aerodynamic shape and as we discussed the EPA 250 miles is an estimate, so lets be conservative and knock off 20% down to 200 miles to account for higher speeds and air conditioning use. If you were to drive 200 miles a day, that would be 73,000 miles annually. If you drove instead 200 miles a week that’s 10,400 miles a year. According to the data from the DOT FHWA, the average yearly mileage is 13,476 or 259 weekly. On the high end of the average for older men it's about 360 miles a week. Perhaps comparing EV charging to filling up with gas once a week is one reason why those two surveys ended up with the consumer thinking they needed 300-350 miles of range.





But charging your EV versus filling the gas tank can be very different despite looking similar in practice. When I used to drive an ICE engine, I would have to stop at a gas station to refuel at least once a week - there wasn't any option to go home and use a low volume oil refinery and gas pump located out of sight in my garage. (Of course this excludes those people who live in rural areas who literally do have storage tanks of fuel on their property)


Yet with my electric vehicle I do have home access to the power plant! Albeit pretty slow and more of a trickle, one can expect about 5 miles an hour using a typical 110v outlet which everyone should have access to, excluding those living in an apartment or condo that might restrict easy access. Going back to the high end estimate of 360 miles a week, its only roughly 51 miles daily. If your car is sitting idle at home for at least 8 hours, that would net you around 50 miles a day! 200-250 may not fit all life styles but it’s pretty solid for a daily driver especially when 95% of U.S. car trips are 30 miles or less. Personally, I opted to have a Level 2 charger installed and get around 45 miles an hour in charging my Tesla Model 3.


According to this source of commuting statistics, over 3 million commuters travel 50 miles each way to and then back again from work. Only getting 50 miles over 8 hours of charging isn't going to work very well for those individuals. They would need to spend the money for a level 2 charger to be installed in their home or use a public charging network to supplement their home charging.

GaN Systems OBC designed by Canoo

Listed in the specs for their delivery version, Canoo is anticipating it taking 6.5 hours to charge from 20% to 80% using a level 2 charger. This represents about 23 miles an hour and is a bit disappointing considering I'm getting almost double that in my 3 year old Tesla. However I don't think it's a deal breaker as it is probably good enough and the Canoo LV also costs significantly less. Perhaps by the time they are ready to sell to retail consumers the OBC(onboard charger) will be upgraded allowing faster charging. On the DC fast charging side of things they fair better being able to go from 20% to 80% charge in about 28 minutes.


For non-Tesla owners, public charging probably results in the most headaches. Often times there is usually at least 1 charger at a station that is broken, and sometimes all of them!

Thankfully it is a well known issue with both public and private stakeholders already addressing it. This past November, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill was passed that included $5B over five years to boost the nations public charging access. In fact, just yesterday the DOT announced it has approved the electric vehicle charging station plans for all 50 states, Washington and Puerto Rico covering about 75,000 miles of highways! On the public front we see initiatives like BP and Hertz collaborating on a network also announced yesterday.


Sadly, in response to consumers confusion about how much range they need, some automakers have latched on to the idea of providing range in excess of the consumer need. This is achieved by making the batteries bigger and thus longer-lasting. However the trade off on that is batteries are the single most expensive and heaviest component of an electric vehicle! Consumers end up spending considerably more money for range they rarely ever need, and while buying more car than necessary is an American tradition, I hope its one we can get over once the masses are more comfortable and knowledgeable about EVs.


So to recap, as of today, the projected range of Canoo's LV is enough to meet the actual needs of most drivers. Going forward as technology improves, charging speeds quicken and the network of public charging expands, the base range of EVs becomes less of a issue.



Authors disclosures: I am long Canoo - I own common shares, warrants and call options.






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One of my main requirements for Canoo is to make the 438 mile trek from Ann Arbor Michigan to Marquette Michigan in one day. Realistically, adding three stops for 30 minutes each to refuel will make this annual trip a huge bore. Someday, Canoo must consider bigger battery packs as an option, or it might be a showstopper for me and my $100 deposit.

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wheresPaunch
wheresPaunch
Sep 29, 2022
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I would imagine the MPP is probably maxed out and pack full without any extra room for a bigger battery pack, however the neat thing about technology is it's always improving! Maybe 4680 batteries will end up in them quicker.

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