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Exclusive: Troubled EV company Canoo loses another 4 senior employees

September 20, 2022, 12:57 PM UTC

Another handful of senior employees has parted ways from the troubled electric vehicle company Canoo as the startup attempts to bring its first vehicle to market and build its own manufacturing facilities.

The recent wave of departures include Branden Coté, vice president of product management and sales; Kate Lengyel, Chief Human Resources Officer; John Sotello, senior director of IT and cloud engineering; and Pawel Zoneff, director of PR and corporate communications, Fortune has learned. John Mocny, the company’s head of manufacturing, and Rich Schmidt, a senior vice president of manufacturing, also left recently, as was first reported by Bloomberg.

Zoneff confirmed he had left the company, but declined to comment. Others didn’t respond to a request for comment. “In a company of more than 900 people – people are joining, leaving and people are also asked to leave, and that’s the nature of every business this size,” a Canoo spokeswoman said in a statement.

The electric vehicle market—with players like Rivian Automotive and Lucid Motors—has captivated investors looking for the next Tesla. While the technology is capital-intensive, EVs promise to help corporates meet their lofty emission reduction goals, and several startups have managed to successfully rally the excitement of retail investors. 

Cash-burning EV companies have taken investors on quite a bumpy ride, but, as I have written about previously, Canoo stands out for its tumultuous history, high executive turnover, various legal battles, and complaints lodged around its CEO, Tony Aquila, who started running the company right around the time it went public at the end of 2020. Canoo’s stock has become a lucrative bet for some short sellers. By market close yesterday, Canoo’s shares were trading nearly 70% below their January price. 

In July, Canoo was handed what could potentially become a lifeline. Global retailer Walmart agreed to buy a few thousand of Canoo’s vehicles and made an investment in the company (with several strings attached). But that deal doesn’t appear to be doing much to appease the high turnover at the startup.

Canoo’s next big milestone will be to get its vehicle into production. For the time being, Roush, a third-party car manufacturer, is building Canoo’s “Gamma” version of its lifestyle vehicles, according to an internal presentation seen by Fortune. Eventually, Canoo plans to build out its own facilities in Oklahoma and Arkansas, though they are far from completion, and the company is in dire need of ongoing capital, as it has made abundantly clear from its own SEC filings.

You can read all about the chaos at Canoo in a feature story I published recently, which you can find here.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


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