Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

EV startup Canoo loses three top executives, including chief technology officer Peter Savagian, as part of an apparent shakeup of its leadership team. Savagian, the former chief engineer of the General Motors EV1 electric car, will leave Canoo by the end of the year, according to the latest line of a press release published Monday.

The other two are some of Canoo’s surviving co-founders, two current employees who spoke to The edge on condition of anonymity, although they were not mentioned in the press release: Bill Strickland, the head of Canoo’s vehicle programs and a longtime Ford executive, and Alexi Charbonneau, who worked at both SpaceX and Tesla and oversaw Canoo’s powertrain division. Strickland and Charbonneau did not immediately respond to messages asking for comment. Canoo did not respond to a request for comment.

Three of the original founding group remain. Sohel Merchant will replace Savagian as CTO. Richard Kim, Canoo’s lead designer, will now also be responsible for creative content and, on an interim basis, merchandising. The third, Christoph Kuttner, will remain responsible for the interior and exterior trim of Canoo’s vehicles.

Canoo was founded in late 2017 when former BMW chief executive Stefan Krause left the then struggling EV startup Faraday Future. Krause and some of the other executives who co-founded Canoo — then called Evelozcity — were charged by Faraday Future for poaching employees and stealing trade secrets, though the lawsuit was arranged at the end of 2018.

Krause left Canoo in June 2020 before merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) and listing on the Nasdaq exchange. (The details of Canoo’s SPAC merger are currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.) Krause’s replacement — Canoo co-founder and former BMW chief executive Ulrich Kranz — resigned last April and took a job at Apple to work on his secret electric autonomous car project. Original powertrain leader and co-founder Phil Weicker departed in early 2021.

Canoo’s lead attorney also left at the same time as Kranz, although he was not a co-founder. Chief Financial Officer Paul Balciunas stepped down in April.

The startup announced Monday that it has hired a new chief information officer, Ram Balasubramanian, who has “held more than two decades of senior technology management positions at companies like, Motorola Solutions and PepsiCo.”

Canoo’s priorities have shifted along with the composition of its leadership team since investor Tony Aquila took over as executive chairman in late 2020, just after the startup went public. (Aquila also took on the CEO role after Kranz resigned.) Since then, Aquila has refocused the startup to sell commercial electric vehicles to small businesses and fleets. He ruined a deal with Hyundai. He moved Canoo’s headquarters from Torrance, California, to Bentonville, Arkansas, and announced a manufacturing facility in the startup’s new home state (after announcing another in Oklahoma).

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