Image courtesy of Canoo.

Canoo Partners With Pawnee Nation On Clean Technology & Job Training

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Canoo may be more or less moribund, but it is not dead yet. On September 21, 2023 it announced a landmark partnership with the Pawnee Nation to identify and nurture emerging business and job opportunities in growing clean energy industry in Oklahoma.

The Pawnee Nation is a federally recognized Indian Tribe headquartered on the Pawnee Indian Reservation near Pawnee, Oklahoma. It has a membership of 3,700 citizens, whose government exercises jurisdiction over 30,000 acres of tribal land in Oklahoma, numerous individually owned trust allotments scattered across Pawnee and Payne Counties, and tribal-owned land in Nebraska.

Today, the Pawnee Nation is the largest and most successful employer in Pawnee County and has a history of providing valuable quality of life and lifesaving opportunities and services to constituents and Pawnee people in the direct service area.

“Our decision to locate our manufacturing in Oklahoma was driven in part by opportunities to work with tribal nations and others to further diversify local economies and to help create good jobs for working people in a dynamic emerging industry,” said Canoo CEO Tony Aquila in a press release. “Under this agreement, the Pawnee Nation and Canoo will work together to train workers and develop suppliers for Oklahoma’s growing clean energy industry.”

“We are excited to partner with Canoo and to continue to expand our business and economic development ventures,” said Pawnee Nation President Misty M. Nuttle. “This partnership brings diversification for us as we engage in industries we currently have not explored. We are enlivened to be on the frontier of energy and renewable energy opportunities and as stewards of our tribal and trust lands and natural resources, felt it is our duty to engage in the most responsible efforts and initiatives, so our resources remain available for future generations.

“We felt Canoo, through their knowledge and experience within the clean energy industry, shared this same vision. Their willingness to assist the Nation in enhancing our efforts to meet the needs of people has shown us that we are embarking on a true partnership.”

Courtesy of Canoo

The agreement between the Pawnee Nation and Canoo is focused on four areas, Aquila says:

  • Building work force skills in zero emission vehicles and other clean energy technologies.
  • Developing qualified suppliers of parts and services needed for the zero-emission vehicle industry.
  • Supporting STEM education by connecting Pawnee students to internships and employment opportunities in clean energy fields.
  • Manufacture an initial order of Canoo vehicles for the Pawnee Nation that will be built in Oklahoma.

Tackling A Warming Environment

Commenting on the partnership, Pawnee business council vice president Jordan Kanuho said, “The Pawnee Nation believes that partnerships are key to tackling the challenges we face when it comes to issues such as climate change and diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce, education, and training.

“Through recent partnerships with our Pawnee Nation Infrastructure Taskforce professionals and organizations such as Tribuquent, the University of Oklahoma, and the Pawnee Nation College, we have begun exploring innovative ways to re-purpose oil wells on our lands for the use of geothermal energy along with photovoltaic technologies to produce clean energy on our tribal lands.” What better way to empower Tribal members than with renewable energy?

Canoo said it believes this agreement with the Pawnee Nation to promote clean technologies such as clean energy and clean transportation is the first of its kind in Oklahoma. The Pawnee Nation is focused on the continued development of its alternative fuel energy strategy and a shift toward electrification within its community.

Jordan Kanuho added, “This exciting partnership with Canoo will build on the work we’re currently doing in clean energy while at the same time, offering great opportunities to our tribal citizens in the area of workforce development, supporting STEM, and inspiring the next generation of Pawnee scientists and engineers by connecting students to internships, apprenticeships, and employment opportunities in clean energy technology fields. We see that Canoo is doing some amazing things in the clean energy sector, and we’re excited to partner with them in this wonderful opportunity.”

Canoo electric pickup
Canoo electric pickup. Image courtesy of Canoo.

 Canoo Is On A Mission

Canoo says its mission is to “Bring EVs to Everyone.” The company has developed breakthrough electric vehicles that are reinventing the automotive landscape with their pioneering technologies, unique design, and business model.

Canoo has designed a modular electric platform that is purpose-built to maximize the vehicle interior space and is customizable for all owners during the useful life of a vehicle. This flexibility to support a wide range of business and consumer applications is unique to Canoo vehicles. We know of one reader, a full time farmer in New Hampshire, who would love to put a Canoo pickup truck to work on his farm.

Canoo has teams in California, Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. That last one is the result of a lifeline thrown to the company by Walmart last year. Walmart has placed a significant order for Canoo electric delivery vans, but the company is still struggling to ramp up production in order to get a revenue stream started that will allow it to expand its business.

New Factory In Oklahoma City

Last April, Canoo signed a long term lease on a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oklahoma that has the potential to be expanded should more space be needed. Oklahoma City (OKC to NBA fans), is located about an hour’s drive southwest of Pawnee county. The company plans to manufacture its revolutionary electric vehicles — like the ones it supplied to NASA recently — at that factory. It says more than 500 workers will be employed there as it ramps up production over the coming months.

“One of the reasons we picked Oklahoma is because it has one of the most amazing work forces in America. They have proven themselves across many industries, including aviation and aero defense, which is why we are excited to announce our second manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City,” said Tony Aquila at that time.

The manufacturing space covers 120 acres, which leaves plenty of room for expansion if needed. That facility will support a full general and final vehicle assembly line, state-of-the-art robotics, a body shop, paint shop, quality control, complete vehicle testing and validation, and more.

With an existing training center and test track, the facility is located within easy proximity to road, rail, and waterways, making it ideal for sophisticated supply chains and manufacturing.

The Takeaway

Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle
Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle, image courtesy of Canoo

Canoo is one of those companies like Proterra that we have written about many times. Both are innovative and committed participants in the EV revolution. Both are struggling to survive. Bringing new cutting edge electric vehicles to market is fraught with challenges and pitfalls.

Canoo vehicles might not appeal to the country club set, but they should appeal strongly to commercial customers and people who are looking for a rugged electric vehicle for their trade or business. The company is talking the talk and walking the walk, but that may not be enough for it to succeed. Whether it will ever emerge from production hell is anyone’s guess at the moment.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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