Electric vehicle startup Canoo will offer cars by subscription only

(Reuters) - Evelozcity, the U.S. electric vehicle startup, has changed its name to Canoo and said on Monday that it will offer a range of EVs to private and commercial customers by subscription only.

Canoo is positioning itself as a “boutique California EV brand” and said it will start sales in the United States in 2021, eventually expanding to China.

The company, one of dozens of EV startups in the United States and China, has not disclosed its investors but has raised about $1 billion, according to a source familiar with the process.

Canoo said it plans to market a four-model range that will include personal commuter and “lifestyle” vehicles, as well as commercial vehicles for ride and delivery services. The so-called lifestyle vehicle is meant to provide the space and functionality of an SUV, the company said.

Canoo did not provide any details on pricing but said it would not have a dealer network. It will offer a variety of subscriptions of different duration, some bundled with insurance and related services.

Founded in late 2017 and based in a Los Angeles suburb, Canoo said it is planning a “lean” operation that will rely on a contract manufacturer to assemble its vehicles.

In mid-March, German publication Automobilwoche reported the company was in talks with Canadian supplier Magna International and its unit Magna-Steyr to assemble the startup’s vehicles in the United States.

Canoo said it is “evaluating partners for manufacturing but no contracts are signed yet.” Magna declined to comment.

Canoo said it plans to partner with a provider of self-driving technology for future automated versions of its vehicles.

The startup said its vehicle designs will be non-traditional, with “a minimalist design that maximizes interior space.”

Canoo said it has 350 employees and announced several key hires, including former executives of Uber, SAIC Motor and STMicroelectronics.

The company was founded by Stefan Krause, Ulrich Kranz and Richard Kim, all of whom worked previously at another California-based EV startup, Faraday Future. Krause is a former top executive at Deutsche Bank. Kranz was a senior vice president at BMW’s electric vehicle unit. Kim previously led the exterior design of the BMW i3.

The founding team was joined last year by another industry veteran, Karl-Thomas Neumann, former chief executive of German automaker Opel and head of Volkswagen AG’s China operation.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Bill Trott