Hyundai Motor Group, comprised of Hyundai and Kia, announced a partnership with startup Canoo on Tuesday. The skateboard-like base used in Canoo’s electric vehicles will power small electric and purpose-built vehicles, like air taxis, according to The Verge. A Hyundai spokesperson told Reuters the focus would be on vehicles around the size of the automaker’s compact Accent model.
The deal — Canoo’s skateboard platform puts typical chassis elements like tires and steering along with batteries and electric motors. This low base allows for a variety of vehicles to be made on top of the vehicle’s core operational components, a major breakthrough for mass production of electric vehicles.
“We were highly impressed by the speed and efficiency in which Canoo developed their innovative EV architecture, making them the perfect engineering partner for us as we transition to become a frontrunner in the future mobility industry,” Albert Biermann, the head of research and development for Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement.
Though specifics around the deal are scant, the partnership is part of Hyundai’s $87 billion investment in “future mobility technologies” over the next five years. Hyundai will spend $52 billion while Kia will invest the remaining $25 billion. The scope goes beyond your average electric car and includes a recent partnership with Uber for short-range air taxis.
Canoo, a fledgling Los Angeles startup, launched its first vehicles last fall — less than two years after its founding — which are available with a subscription. Working with Hyundai gives the company more legitimacy and reach without the hassles of acquisition.
Canoo CEO Ulrich Kranz told The Verge: “It’s really important for us because having a household name like Hyundai do some work with a startup like Canoo proves that we have a good concept and a good team.”