David Grundstrom figures that the Coda Sedan will round out the electric-drive lineup he is putting together for environmentally minded Southern California customers.
Grundstrom, CEO of Marvin K. Brown Auto Center in San Diego, has Mitsubishi and Fisker franchises, so he offers the Mitsubishi i electric vehicle and the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. He is slated to begin selling the Sedan this month.
When it comes to alternative-energy vehicles, Grundstrom says, "there's really no single answer to it, and that's why we've taken on products like these."
The Sedan might seem to duplicate the i since both are EVs. But Grundstrom says range differentiates the two -- the i gets 62 miles, while Coda says that the two Sedan models get 125 and 150 miles.
The i would work primarily as a short-range commuter car, he says, while the Sedan could satisfy customers seeking an all-purpose car. Coda will emphasize that point by telling San Diego shoppers that they could drive to the Los Angeles airport, leave the car at a charger while they travel and drive home.
Grundstrom, whose group sells Cadillac, Buick, GMC and Saab as well as Mitsubishi and Fisker, says he will house the Coda franchise in the company's former Hummer store.
Coda has been reasonable to work with in setting up the store, he adds: "I said, 'You know, don't start forcing guys to put up $100,000 signs and all of that. Start selling cars and see what works.' They've been really great about that."
Coda was wise to alter its initial plan of having company-owned stores, a strategy that Grundstrom says has failed in the past without dealers' knowledge of parts, service and vehicle financing: "If you don't know the car business, I can see how you would think it would work."
He also discounts criticism of the styling of the Sedan, which is based on an older Chinese car supplied by Hafei Motor Co. The initial wave of green buyers is not looking for swoopy curves, Grundstrom says.
"It's not a sexy-looking car, but a lot of people who will be in the market for that car don't care about sexy styling," he says. "They care about reducing our dependency on foreign oil and thumbing their nose at the gas station when they drive by."