Coda's self-titled debut sedan is small in stature but carries ambitious goals for the upstart California electric-car maker.
The five-passenger electric car is expected to launch this December in California, and Coda Automotive wants to sell the cars across the nation by the end of 2013. It's the first product for a company that is banking on the battery: the 33.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion unit powers a small motor for a range of 90 to 120 miles.
Coda brass are candid: It won't be the only car for most people, but it can meet the daily needs of most people. And in plain English, it's a “real car.” There's a trunk. It has fairly bland, universal styling and is roughly the size of a Chevrolet Cobalt. The ambitious goal is to sell 14,000 Codas next year with a sticker in the mid-$30,000 range after the $7,500 federal tax credit and other potential incentives.
“Consumers want real range,” said Mike Jackson, Coda senior vice president of sales and distribution.
Still, the company faces obstacles, including offerings from established companies like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. Its business plan also is centered heavily on importing key elements from China. The chassis and body will be built in there at a factory run by Coda. The batteries also come from China, via a joint venture with a company called Lishen that also supplies batteries to Apple and Motorola. Final assembly and inspection of the cars will be completed in at Coda's Santa Monica, Calif., base. The batteries carry an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and the rest of the car has three-year, 36,000-mile coverage.
The car will be outfitted with an eight-inch navigation screen with available real-time traffic and weather updates.
A longtime former General Motors marketing executive, Jackson was part of the discussions on naming the Volt and is acutely aware of the climate for all things green.
“The core consumers would be interested in technology and kind of early adopters,” Jackson said.
Power comes from a small engine making 134 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque mated to a single-speed transmission. Maximum torque is present at launch, Coda says, and the batteries are located under the seats and can be charged in two to six hours. The Coda is based on a Mitsubishi platform but is mostly redesigned. It rides on 17-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels and a four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear MacPherson struts. Top speed is limited to 80 mph.
The company is taking a fairly untraditional approach for distribution and will offer the cars in informational stores in high-end shopping centers. The final purchase is then made online. There also will be a flagship store in a former Saturn dealership in Santa Monica. A car is expected to be displayed later this year at the Los Angeles auto show.