Coda Automotive, a Southern California start-up that assembles EVs with Chinese components, announced at today’s Beijing Auto Show that it would partner with the Chinese OEM Great Wall to develop a new, lower-cost EV. Says Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh (who you might remember as a key character in American Wheels, Chinese Roads) explains in a press release
We’re excited to work with Great Wall Motors to develop the second product in Coda’s portfolio, to bring another solution to a global problem and together make high-quality clean technology accessible. Ultimately, this will enable drivers worldwide to go electric affordably and support our mission of putting an EV in everyone’s garage.
Coda’s first product exemplifies the challenges facing the EV startup: namely a high MSRP (starting price $38,145) for a product that doesn’t quite meet competitive standards for the US. Great Wall may not bring a vast improvement in quality to the partnership (although it was the first Chinese OEM to pass European Whole Vehicle Type Approval), but it should be able to help Coda offer a more affordable EV to the US market. The new vehicle will be jointly developed, with Coda taking the lead on the EV powertrain development and final assembly, and GW manufacturing gliders at its plant in Baoding.
Meanwhile, plenty of questions remain. Will lower costs help Coda battle its way out of a brutally niche positioning? Will even cheaper Chinese vehicles meet American-market expectations? Will new product even make a difference to Coda, considering its dealer net is currently only four stores strong? Bertel and I will be meeting with Coda while we’re in the Los Angeles area this week, and we’ll be sure to bring you more details on its alliance with Great Wall as they become available.