Walmart Won't Let Canoo Sell EVs to Its Nemesis, Amazon

Walmart is specifically blocking the sale of Canoo's electric vans to Amazon in the latest bid for EV fleets.

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Walmart is making sure its deal with Canoo will turn the startup EV company’s delivery vans into something of a Walmart exclusive. At least, where rival titans of commerce, Amazon and Walmart, are concerned. Walmart specifically called out Amazon in the terms of its deal to buy up to 10,000 EVs from Canoo, saying the startup can’t sell electric vehicles to Amazon for the duration of the contract.

The details of the Walmart, Canoo deal were previously unreleased, but the fine print was found in a securities filing published Wednesday, after the deal went public. Bloomberg cited a list of what Canoo is contractually forbidden from doing with Amazon, saying that the EV startup “...will not enter into any agreement for any services involving the design, manufacture, consult, advice, lease, or sale of EVs to, or issue any equity, equity-linked or debt securities of any type, or enter into any agreement for the purpose of transferring control of the Company to, Amazon.com, Inc., its subsidiaries, or affiliates.”

Wow, Walmart. Canoo can’t even give advice? How catty. I suppose this is what Jeff Bezos gets for abusing Walmart’s return policy. Either that, or Walmart wants to make an association between its brand and the friendly, fully-electric delivery vans Canoo has been promising since 2019. The vans look good!

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It’s no wonder Walmart wants dibs. Despite Canoo’s neat designs, the startup came close to shuttering its operations. The Walmart deal has given the aspiring electric carmaker a second wind and boosted its stock price. NASA is another one of Canoo’s high-profile partners, but the space agency was unlikely to require an EV fleet at the scale of Walmart, which plans for a delivery fleet of Canoos in the thousands — between 4,500 and 10,000 EVs.

Walmart might have a bigger fleet than the Canoo deal implies, since it’s buying another 5,000 commercial EVs from GM venture BrightDrop. Bloomberg says the contract notes Walmart is free to do business with other EV companies, and is non-binding. In other words, Walmart is hedging. But Canoo could end up as the defacto EV company behind Walmart, given the deal, and that both companies now share a headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

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Amazon, for its part, has its own deal with Rivian, which gives it priority over other customers. That could mean the Walmart and Canoo deal is the last thing Amazon is worried about. But seen from the other side, the deal drops a big hint that Bezos and Amazon live rent-free in the minds of Walmart executives.

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