Similar to how Henry Ford set out to make the automobile accessible for everyone in America; a small start-up company based in Santa Monica, CA intends to make the electric car affordable to all. Coda Automotive has been developing what they call a revolutionary new compact, full-electric car for less money than the competition. The past several years have been a struggle, but as with any start-up company, there are growing pains.
At the beginning of 2011, the company had already raised $76 million dollars and is looking to end with a total of $200 million. Past CEOs of this fledgling carmaker are former Goldman Sachs executives that should have no problem finding the last chunk of capital. This year, Phil Murtaugh became the new CEO and can back up his credentials with former stints at Chrysler and General Motors. “We’re getting our production tooling in order now. It all takes about six weeks to ship them over to the United States, so sometime in the fourth quarter, probably the late fourth quarter, we’ll see cars going on sale in California,” said Murtaugh.
The car itself is less than stunning on the outside, but with fuel efficiency being at the forefront of many Californian’s minds, this car could be the easy answer. It should achieve 90 to 120 miles on a single charge and charge faster than its major competition.
Hit the jump for more details on the Coda Sedan
Exterior and Interior
Coda describes the exterior of the sedan as “an effortless blend of style and function.” Aside from all the press release sugarcoating, this car really looks like a late model Kia or a Volkswagen Jetta if you squint your eyes. Neither of those cars bring about a whole lot of emotion from any car fan, but the idea of a compact car is not to be exciting. The entire idea of the Coda car company revolves around being economical and utilitarian.
The car has everything you need; room for five passengers and a full sized trunk. The trunk is one thing that much of the competition in this sector cannot boast. Keeping things simple, Coda opted for a palette of 5 colors: Pearl White, Metallic Black, Metallic Silver, Sage Green, and Sky Blue. Standard 17-inch aluminum wheels keep things bland, but much better than cheap hubcaps found on older economy cars. One addition that shows the forward thinking of this company is the addition of LED daytime-running lamps and LED tail lamps. In case you’re wondering about different trim levels on the Coda, forget about it. This company runs with the same philosophy as Southwest Airlines, where everyone is first class. In reality, everyone is sitting coach with their legs crumpled up against the person in front of you, but this idea may resonate with the younger and more “green” crowds.
Inside, the Coda sedan is all business, but does include some of the more futuristic ideas seen on the model. The shifter is an electronic rotary knob that selects only one of four things: park, neutral, reverse, and drive. The seats can be fashioned with leather surfaces, but most will probably get the fabric made from recycled material. No matter what the outside condition, a 2.0 kW air conditioning system and standard heater will be on call to combat the weather.
Perhaps the most exciting piece of the interior is the NanoVision nTouch Infotainment System. This setup comes standard and includes a touch screen monitor that can control the very user friendly navigation system. Other menus on the system show controls for the radio, satellite radio, weather and news, and even an iPod hookup. With cell phone laws becoming more and more stringent, the company has also decided to make blue tooth hands free technology standard.
The battery system in the Coda is apparently what makes it stand out from the crowd. The Battery Management System (BMS) controls battery function and also relays information to the driver. It is capable of predicting the car’s range based on inputs coming from behind the wheel. If you are driving aggressively or just out for an evening cruise, the Coda will be aware and adjust output accordingly. The lithium-iron phosphate battery produces enough electricity to make 134hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Through the use of the BMS system and the cars Thermal Management System (TMS), the new Coda can get anywhere from 90-120 miles on one charge. Using a 220 volt charger, the battery is ready to go in 6 hours, which is faster than the competition. Coda is also supplying a charger that can be used in any outlet and stored in the trunk. In a short two hours, the car can be made ready to travel another 40 miles.
The engineers at Coda wanted this car to be simple and efficient and deciding where to place these large batteries can be a challenge. They were able to put it beneath the vehicle in between the front and rear wheel wells, which helps distribute weight perfectly. This weight distribution and low center of gravity help the standard single-speed transmission be more efficient and provide increased performance.
Competition and Pricing
Coda initially had plans to release their sedan in 2010, but as with many new ventures, the date has been pushed back significantly. If they had been able to achieve their goal of production last year than it would have been much easier to say that they brought the electric car to the masses. Instead, Coda will face stiff competition from nearly every manufacturer in the industry. Companies like Chevrolet and Toyota are hot on the trail creating their own hybrid and electric cars for less money. The Coda sedan is expected to fetch $44,900 when it goes on sale. Not only is that expensive, but the company plans to only sell in California and then expand to other locations at later dates.
- Simple Design
- Full Electric
- Lots of Torque
- Limited Availability to Start
- Bland Styling