CODA adds to the EV world

by Ernie Hernandez on March 18, 2012

Coda Sedan

First three CODAs delivered in California

CODA on Friday, March 16 announced the delivery of their first three cars. Two CODA Automotive sedans were sold and delivered in Los Angeles with one being delivered in Redwood City just south of San Francisco. CODA brings one thing to the game that no battery electric vehicle can yet claim – that it is a five-passenger, four-door sedan. Clearly, for some, that is enough.

One fact that we find interesting is that the CODA Automotive electric car has no model name. We weren’t really clear on this, as we have seen it referred to as the CODA Sedan over the years, so we went back to the first press release issued by the company in June 2009. Even in that very first press release the vehicle is referred to as the CODA sedan (not Sedan). Many lamented the delays when the Nissan LEAF was introduced and sold in 2010. That initial CODA press release had the vehicle launched in the fall of 2010 as a 2010 model. So clearly it is about 18 months later than initially expected, and first deliveries are 2012 models. Ah, but such is the nature of bleeding edge technology – which all electric vehicle (EV) automobile manufacturers still are.

The 2012 CODA has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $37,250 plus an $895 destination charge. This price includes a 31 kilowatt hour battery which has been Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated at an 88 mile range, compared to the Nissan LEAF range of 73 miles, although it is the least efficient of the four vehicles rated thus far by the EPA. The most efficient according to the EPA is the Mitsubishi i at 112 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), with the CODA coming in at 73 MPGe. That is 35% less efficient for those keeping track. The LEAF rated 99 MPGe and the Ford Focus Electric came in at 105 MPGe. What’s that? You thought that the Ford was the most efficient, based on all of those ads that you’ve seen? It’s called marketing. Ford markets itself as being the most efficient 5 passenger electric car. The Mitsu only holds four. The CODA will offer a larger battery with the MSRP going up only slightly to $39,900. No mention on the CODA site of what that battery capacity might be, but a press release for the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show pegged it at 33.8 kilowatt hours. CODA does offer the benefit of a 6.6 kilowatt on board charger, doubling the capacity of that found in the LEAF.

While it may seem that we are unduly negative in our assessment of the CODA, we do not think the critique is without merit. The CODA is brought to us by an automotive provider that did not exist five years ago. CODA is an assembler more than a manufacturer as the chassis/body is Chinese built with assemblies added in CODA’s Benicia, California plant. Even the company’s carefully worded press release celebrated the “Final Assembly of its first EVs.” When placed next to products developed by multi-billion dollar automotive manufacturers, you will forgive us if we have our reservations. Still, another EV alternative will create even more awareness and hopefully help to move the idea forward. We wish CODA success.

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