In the battle for market share among electric cars, the vehicle design is crucial, but not for this California startup, Canoo. While Tesla and Porsche's models showcase the flashy sports car type, Canoo went for something unconventional in its bid for a piece of the electric vehicle market's pie -- a lofty box-like exterior.

The design features a van-like frame with a less apparent hood that makes distinguishing the front from the rear somewhat tricky if it weren't for the side mirrors. It looks like a modern version of an old fashioned van, like the 1967 Volkswagen Camper or maybe a loaf of bread on wheels.

Another thing to note is the subscription package the company offers. Although it's not as unique as its design, it does provide flexibility to future Canoo owners. According to Bloomberg, customers will pay a one-time fee and a flat monthly rate to use (rent) the car, but no specific figure has been disclosed yet.

Former CEO, Stefan Krause, said that the subscription packages would be flexible.

"We are basically completely open-ended. I want customers to try it, and after two months they decide it's not for them, then they just return the car," Krause told the Verge in March. Ulrich Kranz is now managing the day-to-day operations of the company.

The company looks to get its first units out by 2021.

Inside the vehicle

The exterior of the vehicle isn't the only stark contrast between a standard EV. Inside Canoo's spacious interior is a U-shaped sofa instead of lined seats that can sit up to seven passengers.

It is also equipped with five radars, seven cameras, and twelve sensors with the intent to go full autonomous one day. The passengers can control heating, access navigation, and music with just their smart gadgets too.

Speed and Capacity

Fully charged, Canoo's mileage can go for 250 miles. All it takes is 30 minutes to fill up 80 percent of its batteries' capacity. It also has an 80 kWh electric motor with a 300 horsepower.

Canoo certainly doesn't compare to either Tesla or Porsche not just in terms of design but in some features as well. Tesla's Roadster is even touted by Elon Musk of its ability to hover above ground. 

However, what Canoo makes up for is not to be ridiculed as it clearly offers more financial value and usefulness. It will suit those who appreciate a roomy interior and those who don't want to commit to a car contract lease or car financing. Plus, its astounding horsepower allows the vehicle to carry a lot of weight but with the capacity to still drive smoothly.

Selling EVs is a competitive market with little room for differentiation. There are even companies like Arcimoto and Electra Meccanica that are in the microcar niche, the exact opposite of Canoo, and their objective is to provide electric cars that don't take up plenty of road space. However, for Canoo, a new market segment for the EV market may open up, and they are the first one in.

Canoo EV The exterior of Canoo takes on a van-like shape with focus on a spacious interior. Photo: Canoo