By on March 13, 2012

 

 Lost in all the bad news from Fisker this week was the announcement that on Monday morning, the first electric sedan from CODA was driven off the company’s assembly line in Benicia, California and that the CODA car is now for sale, after considerable delay.

CODA, which electrifies “gliders” (essentially rolling chassis without drivetrains) made in China by Chang’an Hafei, originally planned on their EVs being on sale in the US in 2010, then delayed that until late 2011. Chinese battery supplier Lio is also part of the venture. The first CODA won’t have very far to be shipped, just down the coast. So far, CODA has only a single dealer, in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of Cars In Depth

100,000 people in Cobo Hall and the CODA display was almost deserted, with people walking right by

The announcement that CODA is ready to ship their wares comes on the heels of getting official mileage ratings from the EPA for the electric sedan. The EPA says that the CODA sedan will have a 88 mile range on one battery charge, and a mile per gallon equivalent of 73mpg. CODA says that with “reasonable” driving, range may be as high as 125 miles. The rather pedestrian looking CODA just about splits the difference in pricing between a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt with a MSRP (before any tax creidts) of $37,900. The Leaf has an EPA rated range of 73 miles and a MPGE of 99mpg.

The Leaf may have a similar price and range, but like Toyota and the Prius, and Chevy and the Volt, Nissan has given their EV some distinctive styling. Say what you will about hybrids and EVs, but the Prius, Leaf and Volt stand out in a crowd of conventional cars. The CODA sedan (so far they haven’t given their car a model name) has all the styling grace of a generic-Chinese-sedan and from outside appearances it looks no different than inexpensive sedans costing about half of what the MSRP of the CODA is. Using a Chinese “glider” may have sped up getting the CODA EV to market but in the long run it might have been a mistake to use such a generic looking car. Early adopters, and make no mistake, the folks who buy hybrids and EVs are early adopters, often do so to stand out from the ordinary. The CODA, though, is about as ordinary a looking car as you will find, far more ordinary looking than anything within $10,000 of its asking price.

CODA will have a tough row to hoe getting American consumers interested in their EV, $4/gal gasoline or not. No doubt to show that they’re a real player, CODA displayed their EV at the NAIAS this year. After working the media preview, I happened to attend the public days of the show with my daughter and granddaughter. There was record attendance at the show this year and just about all of the manufacturers’ displays were crowded. Even with a naked EV drivetrain on display, the CODA booth was almost deserted. As far as current EVs are concerned, the CODA may be competitive in terms of price, performance and range, but visually it’s too boring to attract attention from consumers.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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18 Comments on “First Coda Electric Sedan Ready to Ship...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Did CODA get the 400 to 500 million dollar taxpayer funded ‘loan’ they wanted through the DOE?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’ve read elsewhere that it’s still pending. No doubt the government is hesitating these days, given the string of duds we’ve heard about.

      The good news is that CODA says they can get by without the money, but having it would be helpful.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Ronnie, an image of the finished car would be nice. Here’s one:
    http://www.evworld.com/press/coda_calstreet.jpg

    It is plain, and except for the hood looks like a 2001 Vanillamobile.

    I wish them well, but I’m surprised they’ve gone to the expense of establishing a US mfg plant while only having one dealer. Without some rapid dealer expansion, they’ll fail in the US.

    Maybe Wal-Mart will pick them up – no joking. That’s a move I’d welcome from any manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar

      gslippy,

      I thought about grabbing a publicity shot of the car from the Coda web site. I thought I had a shot of just the car, but when I saw that I had a photo of the almost deserted Coda display at the NAIAS I decided that it better illustrated people’s level of interest in the car.

      You’re correct, though. If design and styling were part of the post, I should have shown just how generic the Coda sedan actually looks.

    • 0 avatar
      savuporo

      ::It is plain, and except for the hood looks like a 2001 Vanillamobile.

      No, it looks exactly like the 2011 Subaru Mediocrity :)

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Hmmm, here’s a tough conversation at the single dealership:

    Yes, I know it looks like a 15 year old Kia… that’s it made in China by a manufacturer you’ve never heard of and with no track record… that’s we’re the only place it can be fixed in the entire country… that it costs more than a much more polished offering from Nissan (a company about which you may have heard before).. and that nobody will notice you driving it, which is a major point of buying an advanced technology vehicle… but we’ll make you a great deal!

    I am amazed that they even got this far. Is this a money-laundering scheme for Chinese drug lords?

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      You want a stealth electric so your conservative neighbors dont make fun of you?.. of course we can remove all insignia at no cost :)

      Not all Prius drivers are attention w****s

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    They had a car in the “green car” area of the Portland Oregon show, across from an electric Transit Connect. The body is very beige and generic which my 13 year old son found perversely appealing. For the money I would buy a Nissan Leaf which seems a more complete and well thought out car than either the untried Coda or cramped and tinny Mitsubishi MiEV.

  • avatar
    Slab

    You are so right about the styling. About six months ago, I passed one on the freeway. There was nothing distinctive from the back, but the front end was unfamiliar in my rear view mirror. I thought “Can that be a new Corolla?” I slowed down for my exit and it passed. I saw CODA on the back. Didn’t ring a bell. I looked it up online and was shocked at the proposed price.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    I got to drive one of these at the San Diego auto show a few months ago. I was very impressed, but it was the first time I had driven an electric car. The smooth throttle response of an EV is great, in my opinion.

    It does look generic, but everything seems pretty practical for an everyday small sedan, which is what you need in a car that will probably never leave the metro area you live and work in. The side mirrors are wide-angle, almost like a fisheye lens. I really got a kick out of that.

    I was talking to the guy from Coda who rode along on the ride-and-drives about the styling. He said most people who are interested in EV’s saw the plain styling as a negative thing. I guess they want attention.

    If I had the disposable income, I would buy one, but not before waiting for the Focus EV.

    • 0 avatar
      MBsam

      I had a chance to drive one about 2 months ago in LA and the car was absolutely, appalling terrible. Even the speedometer needle itself shook with embarrassment. The most shocking aspect was just how LOUD the propulsion system was. I’m sure they’ve smoothed that out a bit but my ears were ringing after my drive. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy this car when the FAR FAR FAR better Ford Focus electric is nearly out for the same price…

  • avatar
    threeer

    Kitted in China and assembled in the US…think I’ll pass. I had a running email discussion with one of the upper management folks at CODA about the very Chinese roots of the car, and they kept coming back to the “yeah, well…but we put it “together” in the US, so it’s an American product.” Never mind the price. It’ll face the same sales pitfalls that the Volt does (and even less of the American-made promotion).

  • avatar
    niky

    It’s even worse than a 15 year old Kia…

    This car looks exactly like… hand on my heart… a Daewoo Nubira / Optra / Forenza with a grille block.

    One of the worst sedans ever built, anywhere.

    Thankfully, the glider itself is based on a Lancer… so the underpinnings aren’t quite as atrocious, but still… it’s going to be an uphill battle for CODA.

  • avatar
    usfdons

    As a Northern Californian, I can only wish them the best of luck. While I don’t see a huge retail market (at least initially, if the thing turns out to be reliable), but the state fleet market could turn out to be a boon for municipalities looking for green transportation / cred that also “supports” local jobs in state.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    Unbelievable that this old-Civic impostor was designed by Pininfarina. Proof that hiring the Italians to design your cars is not an instant recipe for success or for good looks.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Another piece missing crucial facts.

    While Coda doesn’t have the level of interest that the Leaf or Volt did, from what I understand they have a not insignificant backorder of vehicles, which required a (refundable)$500 deposit.

    EV buyers are a well-connected bunch, and I imagine most “early adopters” already have it on their radar. While some people no doubt need everyone to know that they are driving an EV, for some performance and price and being different matters more. To those people, the Coda may make more sense.

    Also, since when did looks matter to fleet buyers? I feel like Coda’s best hope is to go after the big fleet buyers who need a car for its efficiency and utility.

    Tesla launched in California with a generic-looking sportscar based on a British body that had a price tag almost 3x the Coda sedan. Hyundai got its start with boring sedans and look at them now.

    Don’t be so quick to write off Coda.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Nissan had lots of pre-orders for the Leaf that were cancelled when it came time to buy. I am thinking the same will happen with Coda once they see the price of the thing and that it is less efficient than a Leaf.


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