• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

Canoo has lost its two co-founders and chief technology officer

ByRoman Frąckiewicz

Dec 21, 2021

Canoo, an electric vehicle startup, is losing three key executives, notably its chief technology officer (CTO) Peter Savagian, in what appears to be a leadership shakeup. According to the last paragraph of a news release issued, Savagian, the ex-chief engineer of the General Motors’ EV1 electric vehicle, will exit Canoo by the close of the year.

According to two existing employees who talked to The Verge on a request of anonymity because they were not named in a media release, the 2 others are some of Canoo’s remaining co-founders. This does include Bill Strickland, who works as the head in charge of the Canoo’s vehicle programs as well as a longtime Ford official, and Alexi Charbonneau, who has worked at both Tesla and SpaceX and managed Canoo’s powertrain division. Charbonneau and Strickland did not respond to requests for comment right away.

Only three members of the initial founding group are still alive. Savagian is going to be replaced as Chief Technology Officer by Sohel Merchant. Canoo’s chief designer, Richard Kim, will now also be in control of creative material and, temporarily, merchandising. Christoph Kuttner, the third, is still in charge of Canoo’s interior and exterior trim.

When ex BMW senior official Stefan Krause departed then-struggling EV company Faraday Future in late 2017, he formed Canoo. Faraday Future sued Krause and several of the other executives that were co-founders of Canoo — then dubbed as Evelozcity — for poaching personnel and purpotedly stealing trade secrets, but the case was settled in late of the year 2018. Before Canoo merged with a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) and started to trade on Nasdaq stock exchange in the month of June 2020, Krause left the company. (The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating the specifics of Canoo’s SPAC merger.) Ulrich Kranz, a fellow Canoo co-founder as well as former BMW executive, got a job with Apple this past April to work on the company’s classified electric driverless car project. Phil Weicker, the company’s original powertrain leader and co-founder, exited in early 2021.

Even though he wasn’t a co-founder, Canoo’s chief lawyer departed at the same period as Kranz. Paul Balciunas, the company’s chief financial officer, resigned in April. Ram Balasubramanian, the company’s new chief information officer, has “held senior technology management roles for more than two decades at firms such as Salesforce.com, Motorola Solutions, and PepsiCo,” according to the announcement.

Since financier Tony Aquila assumed as executive chairperson in late 2020, right after the business went public, Canoo’s ambitions have shifted along with the structure of its leadership staff. (After the resignation of Kranz, Aquila took over as CEO.) Since then, Aquila has refocused its efforts on developing commercial electric vehicles for small enterprises and fleets. He sabotaged a Hyundai agreement. Canoo’s headquarters were relocated from Torrance, California, to Bentonville, Arkansas, and a production plant was announced in the startup’s new home state (after revealing another one in Oklahoma).

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