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Canoo aims to reinvent the work van with the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle

The company wants to reinvent the food truck, the mobile grocery store, the package delivery truck and half a dozen other vehicles too.

Remember the Canoo? You know, that techno-Previa EV van pod thing that will only be distributed via a subscription service? Right. It's cool, but what's cooler is the new Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle that the company announced on Thursday, along with a move away from subscription (for this model at least).

What makes it so cool? Well, to start with, the modularity. Where the regular Canoo is meant to transport people, the MPDV is designed to move stuff. It's got seating for the driver and then more adjustable, transformable, built-in storage than you can easily shake a stick at. For example, if you want to bring a passenger along, a wall-mountable jump seat can be installed. There are also hanging package units, and you can configure the side so it lifts as a canopy so you can use the MPDV as a coffee or food truck.

The drivetrain is pretty basic and shares many similarities with the other Canoo that we've written about previously. The in-house-designed power unit produces 200 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and will work with a battery pack of 40, 60 or 80 kilowatt-hours to offer an estimated range of 130 to 230 miles on the EPA cycle.

The MPDV's styling is very boxy and angular, with a massive faceted greenhouse up front for good visibility and a space-efficient boxy cargo area. There's nary a curve to be found on this thing, but the aesthetic is pretty awesome, and much like the Canoo people-mover, it screams "vehicle of the future" without also screaming "science fiction."

It's not all about work either. Canoo even has designs that turn the MPDV into an adventure vehicle -- think part Sportsmobile and part Volvo C303, but electric. This is in addition to having multiple size variants and door opening styles and on and on. The big draws (if you haven't guessed it already) are its versatility and potential for customization. The other big draw is the price.

The MPDV will have a starting retail price of around $33,000, which is comparable to other more traditional work vans like the base Mercedes Sprinter cargo van and the Ford Transit. Being electric, there are bound to be other cost savings in maintenance and fuel, too, making it probably cheaper to run than other internal combustion vehicles.

Of course, the hitch is that Canoo hasn't actually produced any vehicles that are currently available to the public, and it doesn't expect to have the MPDV in limited production until 2022, with full-scale production happening in 2023. There's a lot that can go wrong in that time, but if it's able to pull the whole thing together, Canoo should have an incredibly cool and seriously useful vehicle on its hands.

Canoo's Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle is the chameleon of work vans

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Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).

Article updated on December 17, 2020 at 6:00 AM PST

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Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
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