Coming out publicly just this month, Santa Monica-based Coda Automotive joins the budding ranks of hybrid and all-electric vehicle makers looking to crack the US market. The company plans to introduce an affordable, full performance all-electric sedan in California in 2010.
With first delivery expected in the fall of 2010, the four-door, five-passenger, fully-equipped Coda sedan is to be powered by 33.8 kilowatt-hour, 333-volt lithium ion battery with a range of 90 to 120 miles on a single charge, sufficient to cover the daily transportation needs of 94% of US drivers. An on-board charger plugs into any standard 110 or 220-volt outlet and completes a full charge in less than six hours at 220V. Charging for a 40-mile commute will take two hours, according to the company.
Expected selling price: $45,000–mid-$30,000s after including a $7,500 Federal tax credit and state incentives.
“The Coda sedan is an all-electric vehicle for everyone,” said Coda president and CEO Kevin Czinger. “It’s a practical revolution for real drivers who need reliable transportation.”
Hitting the Road Running
Looking to hit the road running, a Coda team along with engineering partners from the US and Europe are overseeing the manufacture of the all-electric sedan, which is being built by Hafei, an established state-owned Chinese manufacturer of autos and airplanes that currently manufactures 200,000 vehicles per year.
Coda plans to sell 2,700 of the vehicles next year using a direct distribution model while offering servicing through a network of contracted brand name providers. Production capacity is expected to reach 20,000 in 2011. Those interested can register their interest in purchasing a vehicle through the company’s website.
To promote efficiency, the Coda sedan has been designed to top out a maximum speed of 80 mph and accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 11 seconds. Its design is chock full of the latest automotive gizmos and gadgets.
Factory-standard features include a telematics package, navigation with turn-by-turn directions, a ‘green screen’ that monitors driving efficiency, roadside assistance with an emergency button, a Bluetooth system with an embedded microphone, AM/FM/XM radio with Sirius satellite capability, iPod dock, MP3/USB connectivity, security system, aluminum wheels, and power windows, doors and mirrors, according to the company.
Safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes with electronic stability control and advanced airbags with an occupant detection system with the vehicle backed by a three-year/36,000 mile warranty.
Total Cost of Ownership
Electric engines are much more efficient, and less costly to maintain, than their internal combustion counterparts. With “a fraction of the moving parts of a gas-powered vehicle, the Coda sedan is less susceptible to wear-and-tear and never requires an oil change,” the company points out.
Coda estimates that it will cost less than $3 on average to drive 100 miles. A comparable gas-powered sedan that gets 20 mpg costs about $17 per 100 miles. This equates to over $2,000 in operation and maintenance savings per year at normal driving rates – $20,000 in savings over a ten-year period, according to Coda.
It’s All About the Batteries
As with all hybrid and all-electric vehicles, battery technology, cost and availability are going to be the keys for Coda’s manufacturing effort.
In addition to announcing the planned introduction of its all-electric sedan, Coda announced a global, 40-60% joint venture with Lishen to develop and commercialize battery systems for the auto and utility markets at the latter’s manufacturing facility in Tianjin, China. Lishen is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium ion batteries to the electronics industry, supplying its products to the likes of Apple, Motorola, Samsung and Vodafone.
Coda and Lishen have also made plans to establish a manufacturing base in the US in partnership with a US battery company.
“The uncertainty of battery supply is an issue that plagues many electric vehicle manufacturers today,” Czinger explained in a news release.
“This long-term agreement has enabled us to design an integrated battery system with an existing world-class partner with mass manufacturing capacity. That enables us to rapidly industrialize Coda’s power system for commercial volume production and to scale the business. Eventually, we expect to manufacture batteries in the U.S.”
Living Up to the Hype
The Coda sedan already has some detractors, however. Among other things, The Truth About Cars has this to say about it:
“Comparing the car to the Tesla Model S (a sure sign of this project’s seriousness), Coda CEO Kevin Czinger calls it ‘an all-electric vehicle for everyone.’ Anyone with a sense of humor need not apply.
‘We found that people who had gas-powered vehicles brought up time and time again that they were interested in alternative options, but that the vehicles always look so weird,’ says Czinger. So they made it look as much like an uninspired Chinese sedan as they could. You know, on purpose.
“Anyway, if this is all sounding a bit familiar, it’s because Coda is a rebrand of Miles Electric Vehicles and this particular whip actually has been hyped for a good two years (just under the names Miles and Javlon).”
I guess we’ll have to wait for the marketplace to decide.