On the strength of Coda Automotive’s plan to launch a $45,000 EV conversion of a Chinese Hafei sedan, our coverage of the EV startup (formed from the ashes of Miles Electric Vehicles) has pretty much been limited to the conclusion that it “make the Volt look good.” And as the competition has moved forward, the venture isn’t looking any better by comparison. With news that Nissan will be able to manufacture its Leaf batteries for the low, low price of under $400 per kWh (if all goes to plan, anyway) rocking the EV community, Coda’s proposition of asking $45,000 for a 33.8 kWh lithium-ion battery with a Chinese compact sedan attached to it has not aged well (conservatively assuming the Hafei costs $15k, that still breaks out to nearly $900 per battery kWh, as crude as the comparison may be). But don’t let a little common sense worry you about Coda’s future: according to a company press release [via PRNewswire] the firm just scored a cool $58m in an oversubscribed fundraising round that leaves it with over $125 in total investments.
This “Round C” of investment-gathering was initially limited to $50m, but was apparently expanded to $58 to accommodate unforeseen investor interest. According to the firm, new investors include
EDB Investments (EDBI), a leading investment firm headquartered in Singapore; Countyline LLC, an investment entity owned by Tony Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker; and Les Wexner, Chairman and CEO of Limited Brands. Existing investors Thomas F. Steyer, Mac Heller, Miles Rubin, John Bryson and Angeleno Group also participated.
And a successful investment round wasn’t Coda’s only cause for putting together a press release:
CODA also announced that it will establish an office in Singapore to serve as the design and engineering center for the development and homologation of CODA electric vehicles for right-hand drive markets in Europe and Asia. CODA’s Singapore office will participate in the company’s research and development efforts into vehicle-to-grid technology, a system in which electric vehicles communicate with the power grid to provide electricity during peak demand periods.
“The continued interest in CODA among the investment community is a testament to the strength of our business model and go-to-market strategy,” said Kevin Czinger, President and CEO, CODA. “We welcome EDBI to our team and look forward to working closely together to bring all-electric cars to Singapore and other international markets. While CODA remains focused on the U.S. introduction of our all-electric car this year, international markets, particularly in Asia and Europe, are important to the long term strategic positioning of our company.”
According to the company’s release, that “focus” on the US market translates into the goal of selling 14,000 unit between Q4 of this year and the end of 2011. If that goal is met, the resulting $630m of gross revenue might make these investors look good. But then other $45k-ish-and-up niche vehicles often have a hard time making those numbers: Porsche’s Boxster, for example, has never cracked the 14k annual units barrier, even in years that include Cayman sales in that number. GM is tentatively projecting first-year Volt sales “in the thousands” with volume not reaching the tens of thousands until year two. And, as we’ve already pointed out, The Volt
has a few things going for it, like a gas range-extender, a real (if devastated) dealer network, a metric ton of government money and over a year of relentless hype. Coda Automotive has none of those things