Walmart is here to throw a lifeline to ailing EV manufacturer Canoo. It takes the form of a very useful order for 4,500 all-electric vans from the big box retailer/e-commerce giant, with the potential to buy up to 10,000. Walmart and Canoo became neighbors last year when Canoo’s California headquarters moved to Walmart’s grassland in Bentonville, Arkansas — but the companies weren’t making any public deals at the time.
“We are proud to have been selected by Walmart,” said Canoo Chairman and CEO Tony Aquila. Aquila says Walmart’s size gives it a strategic advantage in “the current growing ‘need it now’ mentality,” and combined with Canoo’s American-made “lifestyle delivery vehicles,” it has a “winning algorithm to seriously compete in the market.” last mile delivery race, worldwide.” Aquila was a Canoo investor before being elevated to chairman and signed on as CEO just before the company went public in 2020 by merging with a SPAC.
The purchase is a step towards Walmart’s claimed goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040, and it will certainly need to do more to offset the fact that it was listed in a report on the largest shipping importers in the US last year. But the Canoo order isn’t Walmart’s only EV resource — in January it also reserved 5,000 all-electric vans from GM-backed BrightDrop.
Walmart’s delivery services have grown during the pandemic, and the company says it has the capacity to deliver same-day deliveries for many products to 80 percent of the U.S. population. With the acceleration of Walmart’s InHome delivery services, including direct-to-refrigerator deliveries in even more states, and the pressure to provide its GoLocal delivery services for other companies, it will need all the delivery vehicles it can get.
In a May earnings call, Canoo execs expressed doubts about the future, but a growing relationship with Walmart could steer the EV company’s ship in the right direction. “We are encouraged that by being close to Canoo’s headquarters, we have the advantage to collaborate and innovate in real time, as well as the opportunity to help create manufacturing and technology jobs here in our home state of Arkansas,” said Walmart SVP of Innovation and Automation David Guggina.
Canoo started in 2017 as a California start-up, Evelozcity, and shortly after it was renamed in 2019, it unveiled the VW-style microbus EVs it wanted to make available via subscription. The company has been through a lot since then: ditching a deal with Hyundai, losing executives, and not only missing out on a deal with Apple, but also losing its former CEO and co-founder to Apple. And today a report from Bloomberg reveals Canoo had a battery fire incident that set a company trailer ablaze – the second fiery incident in a year. This company feels a little bit on fire at times, in a really bad way. Maybe it can keep some of those fires at bay with this latest money from Walmart.