Electric startup Canoo's deal to share its skateboard EV platform with Hyundai appears to be dead, The Verge reported Monday.
Canoo chairman Tony Aquila announced this during an investor call Monday—Canoo's first as a publicly-traded company—adding that the startup plans to pivot away from automaker partnerships to focus on selling its own vehicles to commercial buyers.
The deal with Hyundai was announced in February 2020, and both companies said it would lead to EVs from both the Hyundai and Kia brands based on Canoo's skateboard platform, which packages all mechanical components within the chassis.
Canoo pickup truck
Aquila's statements produced an "icy" reaction from investors on the call, who appeared to be taken by surprise, The Verge reported. Canoo previously called the Hyundai deal a "key partnership," and its skateboard platform also reportedly attracted the interest of Apple, The Verge noted.
Canoo recently went public through a "reverse merge" with a special-purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) shell company, as has become fashionable among EV startups. That should open up more sources of funding, making a partnership with Hyundai less vital. However, The Verge noted that, in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) both before and after the merger, Canoo indicated contract engineering services to other companies would make up a significant part of its business.
On the investor call, Aquila said Canoo will now focus on building and selling its own vehicles to commercial fleets and small businesses. The startup did recently unveil a delivery van and a pickup truck, but the latter seemed aimed more at outdoor enthusiasts than businesses. It's also unclear where this leaves Canoo's first EV, a minivan the company said it would offer to customers through a subscription service beginning this year.