Coda Developing Entry-Level Electric Car for U.S. Market

Electric vehicle upstart Coda Automotive has reached an agreement with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors to co-develop a new compact EV for North American, European, and Chinese markets, reports The Detroit News. The move follows the company’s decision to withdraw its loan application filed with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Coda is aiming for mid-2014 to bring the new EV to the U.S. market, and says the vehicles will be based on an existing Great Wall design. The two automakers will work together to develop the electric vehicle for worldwide distribution, with development taking place in Los Angeles and Baoding, China. The plan is for vehicles to be pre-assembled at Great Wall’s plant in China, with final assembly of North American models occurring at Coda’s facilities in the U.S. Coda says the vehicle will be the “most affordable EV on the market, comparable to entry-level internal combustion engine vehicles.”

Coda’s first vehicle, the Coda sedan, went on sale earlier this year exclusively in California. Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh declined to comment to The Detroit News regarding how many units had been sold, but said in a conference call from China, “It’s a low number.” As you may recall, that vehicle is based on a Chinese-market model built by Hafei Motor Co., which Coda imports to the U.S. and refits with an electric drivetrain as well as different interior and exterior touches. Despite looking like a cross between an early-2000s Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic, the Coda boasts an EPA-estimated combined 73 MPGe, and the manufacturer claims it has a range of up to 125 miles. That all-electric performance comes at a price though: $38,145 before applicable tax credits and incentives. At nearly $40,000 for a new car that looks three generations old, the Coda sedan may be hard to swallow even for EV early adopters.

In addition to its new model announcement, Coda also said it has withdrawn its DOE loan application. The company originally submitted the application in hopes of getting funds to produce cars in the U.S. With the $529 million DOE loan of fellow upstart electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive recently coming under fire, loan applications have become the subject of increasing scrutiny.

Source: The Detroit News

Bill Fisher
Look for a very smartly measured success at Coda with Phil Murtaugh at the helm and Great Wall as their partner this is a very interesting car company all of a sudden. Mr. Murtaugh isn't known to bluster. If he says it, it is fact. To those unschooled in his background, he was one of the architects of GM's success in China and referred to by the former China Bureau Editor of Automotive News as "The God of the Chinese Car Industry." Phil would humbly blush at the description. If I were an investor betting on any of the new electric car start-ups though, Coda would be my choice based on my knowledge of Great Wall and Mr. Murtaugh.

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