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Canoo goes nude to show off EV platform's performance capabilities

Canoo plans for a rad electric van subscription model, but this "skatekart" shows the startup can do a lot more with its platform.

Canoo's claim to electric-car startup fame is a capacious, round van-like vehicle you can't actually buy. Instead, Canoo will let individuals subscribe to its retro-futuristic machine when it launches in 2022. But, the company's skateboard platform isn't just for putzing around town -- it can be a wild thing even without the handsome van body atop it.

Need evidence? Canoo turned its modular skateboard platform into a go-kart it likes to call the "skatekart." It's legitimately the platform that will underpin the Canoo's first vehicle, also called the Canoo, with a steering wheel and seating position. The company also enlisted professional racing driver Sara Price to put the platform to the test, and with 500 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, it seriously looks a wild thing.

Canoo believes its modular platform gives it an advantage over other companies promising similar engineering achievements because, as the skatekart shows, the platform contains everything. From there, Canoo can plop whatever body it likes on the chassis and engineer a seating position to match. With steer-by-wire technology onboard, which eliminates a mechanical connection between the cockpit and the chassis, the possibilities beyond its spacious minivan are basically endless.

The platform's final packaging is flat, which the company said will help it deliver the Canoo with SUV-like space, but the footprint of a compact car. While it's hard to imagine anyone having go-kart day with the Canoo, the startup proved its point that this chassis is suited for much, much more.

"We have revolutionized the platform design concept with a chassis that can be easily married with different cabins, with little adjustment, enabling us to get new vehicles on the road faster and cheaper," Canoo's co-founder and CEO Ulrich Kranz said. "By keeping the most critical and expensive part of the vehicle uniform in all our models, it allows us to rapidly and cost effectively bring to market a full line-up of EVs." Kranz knows a thing or two about engineering; he previously worked in BMW's i Division focused on electric cars and had a stint at struggling startup Faraday Future.

Check out the video above to see the skatekart in action and practice patience. Los Angeles will be the first city Canoo launches in before the second half of 2022.