EV startup Canoo has revealed their American Bulldog, the company's second pickup truck concept. It's more utilitarian than their first pickup concept, perhaps because this one is derived from a military version they've been testing with the U.S. Army.
Details from the press release are scant, filled with marketing bluster like "It combines striking design with world-class performance while emphasizing minimalism with maximum functionality for work, adventure, and service." I'd have preferred some details about the vehicle's features, but all we can gather is what's shown in the images.
First off, the renders resemble concept art for a sci-fi movie:
That being said, they have developed an actual working prototype:
The interior is pretty sci-fi-looking, and appears to have a vent that runs nearly the width of the dashboard:
Here we can also see a trade-off of the extreme cab-forward design: Visibility. Those A-pillars are going to get annoying, particularly if you're driving on a winding road.
The marketing-driven images reveal that this vehicle would target a somewhat romantic vision of existing pickup truck owners:
While I like the way the truck's exterior looks, I do think the design needs to be tested with actual pickup truck owners. For example, the designers have borrowed a potentially useful trick from Japanese kei-trucks, where the tailgate and sidewalls can be flipped downwards to provide a flatbed:
However, they've missed an important aspect of this feature. Here's the tailgate on my own kei truck (a '99 Daihatsu HiJet, thanks for asking), which gets good use on the farm:
Notice that the swung-down panel (whether the tailgate or sidewall) sits as close to the truck as possible. This is to make unloading easy. For instance, if you're hauling wood chips, gravel, hay, etc. and raking it out of the bed, you want it to fall directly onto the ground, or into whatever waiting vessel you have.
In contrast, look again at the flip-down sidewalls on the Canoo:
The bed has a bevel, and the panel protrudes even further than that--look at the offset on those orange hinges. Anything you're raking out of the bed is going to hang up on the top of the panel. Furthermore, because the panel protrudes, it reduces your reach into the bed by what looks to be several inches. This appears to be all downside, with no benefit that I can see.
I do think kinks like this would be swiftly discovered with user testing--if the vehicle makes it that far. The intro video resembles one of those Superbowl commercials that's supposed to make you feel patriotic, and offers little practical information:
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In short, the way this concept is presented makes me think it's targeting investors rather than actual end users. But I suppose that for startups, that's the nature of the game these days.
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