Richard Kim is a designer known for his work with BMW of its i3 and i8 Concept. Later served VP of design at Faraday Future, a company developing electronic vehicles. Today, Richard Kim serves a role as design director at Canoo, the first subscription only electric vehicle.
smalltalk with Richard Kim
“Creating a brand and product from a totally blank sheet of paper is not an opportunity you get very often. It’s very exciting to design everything about a company.”
From working on BMW i3, i8 concept and Faraday Future in the past and now to Canoo – the first subscription only electric vehicle – What inspires you to shape future? (Richard Kim) I’ve had the privilege of working on projects and brands that were in the most early stages of their birth. You learn to immerse yourself in understanding the problems and study the potential needs of the future customer. Creating a brand and product from a totally blank sheet of paper is not an opportunity you get very often. It’s very exciting to design everything about a company, not just another car. You don’t have the advantages or disadvantages of brand legacy or heritage, which makes the challenge very different.
Please explain Canoo’s business model, ‘Subscription Only Electric Vehicle’. (RK)Canoo is building a subscription based business model consisting of a single monthly payment to cover all costs for your vehicle usage. You simply can’t buy the canoo, but it will feel like yours with 24/7 access without the troubles of ownership and you can cancel at anytime. Canoo will launch in targeted U.S. cities in 2021 for B2C (Business to Consumer).
“Cars will still exist to be an extension of one’s personality and style but we believe Canoo has prioritized value and functionality specifically for city use.”
Uber’s main competitor wasn’t a taxi but rather the concept of ‘Car Ownership’. What’s the meaning of ‘Car’ now to us? (RK) We see that there is a significantly sized segment of the market that will appreciate a hassle free subscription offering like Canoo. Cars will still exist to be an extension of one’s personality and style but we believe Canoo has prioritized value and functionality specifically for city use. You can see that the design both inside and out has been reduced and simplified to focus on the most important needs of the mega-city user. We took the notion of minimalism to the extreme and removed all screens. You simply bring the best touch screen you know, love, and trust your mobile phone. This philosophy is quite the opposite of the current trends in automotive design. Subscription services are thriving all around us in other areas outside of the car business. We think the next generation of mobility users will find our proposition very unique, personal and simple to use.
Can mass-transportation be ‘cool’ in the future of urban planning? (RK) I think mass transportation will be cool if it functions well, is on-demand, is safe, is clean, and environmentally friendly.