Small Auto Makers to Compete with Large Firms in EV Race


Big auto companies aren’t the only ones competing in the electric vehicle (EV) market. Coda Automotive, a 41-employee company without its own factory, designers, or dealer network, claims it will beat General Motors and other large firms in the EV market. Coda’s affordable, all-electric automobile (built for the “average American,” the Washington Post reports) is the product of inspiration – at the possibilities in the growing EV market.

Coda Automotive, run by college-football-star-turned-attorney-turned-auto-CEO Kevin Czinger, is headquartered in Santa Monica, California. Its vehicles are assembled in China (where six Coda employees work) and its chassis are licensed by Mitsubishi and comprised of parts supplies by various companies. This fragmented approach is intentional: in Czinger’s words, the company “piggy back[s] off of other organizations that have great know-how and work them in an integrated way.” Doing so will, Czinger believes, allow Coda to carve its own niche in the EV industry alongside – or hopefully ahead of – corporate giants.

Coda’s success would be a big win for the little guys (not to mention sustainability proponents) and a signal to the auto industry that the EV race is not just for the big dogs. It would also likely signal to consumers that electric vehicles are not a passing fad and that innovation still has its place in American business, no matter the size of the competition.

But will Coda succeed? It faces significant challenges: assuring coordination between the companies it sources; distributing and marketing its vehicles effectively; and delivering its vehicles to consumers efficiently despite not having a dealer network. The answer could be “time will tell,” “everyone’s a critic,” or “look at the Little Engine that Could”….

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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