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Coda Sedan - Walking Softly
- Type: Dedicated electric vehicle
- Class: 4-door, 5-passenger sedan
- Manufacturer: Coda Automotive
- Propulsion system: 100 kW, 134hp electric motor
- Top Speed: 80 mph
- Zero-to-60: Under 11 seconds
- Vehicle range: 90-120 miles
- Fuel(s): Electric
- Battery system: 33.8 kWh lithium-ion
- Time to full battery recharge: 12 hours with 110V standard outlet
- Price: $45,000 (before tax credits)
- Availability: Delivery scheduled for Fall 2010 in California only
The manufacturer says
"Coda is not a fashion statement for the elite. It is a model for the mainstream."
Santa Monica CA-based Coda Automotive was founded in 2009 by Miles Rubin as a higher-end, highway-capable electric car to compliment—or counter—Rubin's low-speed car company Miles Electric Vehicles. Their product? The Coda sedan, an all-electric, full performance vehicle that, if all goes well, should land on the California car market in late 2010.
What we like
The spectacular unspectacularness: The best thing going for the Coda sedan is its extraordinary ordinariness. It isn't all coked out on some freaky design; rather, it's crafted to be a sedan like we've all known sedans for so many years, except it has an all-electric drivetrain. Throw in a security system, AM/FM/XM radio, MP3 connectivity, power windows, doors and mirrors, anti-lock brakes, a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty etc, you get the point.
The board muscle: Coda's board of directors and advisors include a longtime former CEO of power provider Edison International (John Bryson), a GM engineer who ran the EV1 program (Ken Baker), a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former CEO of Goldman Sachs (Henry M. Paulson, Jr.), and a former White House Chief of Staff (Thomas McLarty), and that's just scratching the surface. Coda's boards are stacked with experienced, well-connected people, the kind who don't need to say "Let me pull a few strings" because they are the strings.
The name: The term 'coda' has applications in music, ballet, phonetics and beyond, all with the same general idea (a concluding section or part), and while I don't see how it actually applies to the car, it sounds like the name of a sedan out of Detroit, further contributing to the vehicle's spectacular unspectacularness and, in my opinion, it's potential for success.
What we don’t
The Webvan connection: Coda president and CEO Kevin Czinger and CFO Dan Mosher both list Webvan in their profiles. Webvan did one thing very well, and it had nothing to do with groceries or a long-term business plan: Webvan raised venture capital and lots of it. They also spent it poorly, and today Webvan is practically a byword for the greedy silliness of the turn-of-the-century internet boom, bubble, and burst. Currently, Coda is funded entirely by venture capital—could it become Webvan II?
The manufacturing partner: Coda's sedan will be manufactured by Hafei Automotive Group, a state-owned Chinese car and airplane manufacturer. I don't have anything against Hafei, or against the Chinese government, but now is a really bad time to be a US-based company exporting jobs to foreign countries.
The battery venture: Coda entered into a joint venture with a Chinese battery firm, Lishen, to provide the battery pack for the Coda. Then they entered into another joint venture, this time with a Connecticut company, Yardney Technical Products, for the same purpose that Lishen serves. That venture, Coda Battery Systems LLC, then enlisted Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and US House Representative Joe Courtney to help them apply for a DOE stimulus grant. Not a loan, a grant. They anticipate that "Lishen will participate in the U.S. manufacturing joint venture." What exactly does that mean?
Will Coda actually be delivering their sedan to California customers a year from now? If so they will meet the Nissan Leaf at the dawning of the age of the commercial, production EV, although it'll do it with a substantially lower volume (2,700 units, versus Nissan's planned 50,000) and will subsequently get its ass kicked. But if they wait any longer they'll have to go against the Chevy Volt, the electric Ford Focus, and, scarier than both of those, Tesla's Model S—a superior electric sedan in almost every respect.
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