CHOUTEAU — Former Chouteau mayor Frank Klucevsek said he was worried Friday when he walked into a showroom full of Canoo inventory.
But laying his eyes and hands on the company’s electric vehicles put him at ease.
“They’re nicer than I thought, really,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. That’s why I came here.
Hundreds of people stopped by the EXPO center to get a taste of what Canoo’s lifestyle, pickup trucks and versatile delivery vehicles have to offer.
The start-up has pledged to provide at least 1,500 jobs by building a more than 3 million square foot factory in the MidAmerica industrial park in Pryor.
“My son bought some stocks, and the man with me actually spent a lot of money on their stocks,” Klucevsek said. “It will be good for the region. It will create a lot of work for people. I hope we will have enough people to fill the vacancies.
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Tony Morris of Locust Grove brought his 13-year-old daughter, Aubrey, to the showcase.
“I told him it wouldn’t have been cool to have been there when Ford Motor Company first showed off its A-models,” he said. “With her generation, I didn’t want her to miss this experience.”
The vehicles have rectangular yokes instead of steering wheels, as well as drive-by-wire technology, encompassing electronic systems that augment or replace traditional mechanical controls. They are also equipped with folding seats, perforated panels for hanging objects and sliding workbenches equipped with electricity.
“These seem more developed than we expected,” said Tony Morris. “The ergonomics are good. I’m not sure about the repair bill aspects, but I’m curious about it. I remember during the development stages they all had the same frame and that changing body was like changing clothes. I thought that was quite interesting.
“We could end up with one. We are not afraid of technology. We really want to kiss it.
Canoo CEO Tony Aquila attended the event, in support of a company that already has 14,000 vehicles on pre-order, according to Canoo associate Ven Katmannem.
“Any innovation has its own level of risk,” Aquila said. “But if you look at the whole geopolitical backdrop, it’s kind of against the grain of this whole movement. You’re getting four times more return on capital than a gasoline-powered vehicle. And that’s just worse on the fuel side. These vehicles are just designed to fight inflation.
Depending on the extras, Canoo’s trucks will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 and have a range of 250 to 350 miles, a company representative said. They will sit on a targeted million-mile chassis and feature “top hats” or interchangeable bodies, Aquila said.
“Think of the traditional canvas approach,” he said. “We are more like Nike. It’s a configurable model instead of just deleting something.
“Traditional guys push steel. It’s a big thing. It happens once. What we wanted to do was let you in and out as you change your life.
A nod to MidAmerica’s military ordnance history, the Pryor Factory will have a Quonset Hut design. Scheduled to start operations in 2024, it should be able to produce 300,000 units a year, Aquila said.
Canoo sets up its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will also be built. For its workforce at both sites, the company will rely heavily on Cherokee Nation and military veterans, Aquila said.
“Oklahoma has a lot more advantages than people realize because people like us wouldn’t come here if it wasn’t for something here,” he said. “…These two states, in my opinion, are the best trade-off on quality of life, quality of people, long-term trajectory. And they have the ability for us to fight China using the nation and the infrastructure to be able to license parts and keep those communities alive.
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