Low Battery: Coda On Last Leg, Future Unknown

By Trevor Dorchies | March 06, 2013
The electric vehicle segment is tough to break into and even harder to stay around in. Just ask Los Angeles-based Coda Automotive, an electric vehicle maker founded only four years ago. In its short-lived existence, Coda has only managed to move a few hundred units while fellow EV maker Tesla Automotive has taken off. Now, it appears Coda can't sustain itself anymore; after releasing most of its staff, the EV maker has put its flagship store on the market. Codas claims of having the longest range of any EV on the market today hasn't brought people into the showroom. Only a new buyer or investors can save Coda from extinction now. It may not be the most enticing business venture though as Coda only produces one vehicle which is shipped over from China: the Coda all-electric sedan. Tesla Motor's recent success doesn't bode well for other, smaller EV automakers like Coda, too. Adding insult to injury, Tesla Motors will be taking over Coda's flagship store in the Westfield Century City mall right outside Los Angeles. In an attempt to extend its life, Coda raised $200 million thanks to investors like former U.S. Treasury Hank Paulson. Now, Coda is on the hook for that money and it's expected that the automaker will be taken to court by its investors in an attempt to recoup the cash. Coda faced constant obstacles almost since the automaker emerged back in 2009. The first order of business for Coda was to roll out a five-passenger sedan that operates solely on battery power, a plan that was announced in 2010, but that didn't arrive until last year. Unlike relatively popular EV models like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, Coda build its EV's using a regular sedan chassis and dropping in its own electric drivetrain . The end product was met with mixed results. Some people praised the Coda all-electric sedans range, but most people chaffed it. While it boasts a 120 mile range per charge and better acceleration than other EVs, the Coda all-electric sedan looked and felt old before it ever hit the open market.
A poor rating of two stars earned during the National Highway Traffic safety Administration crash testing is one of the worst of any new vehicle available today, and a recall that concerned a safety gear only made things worse. The $44,900 asking price for a base model of the all-electric sedan was just icing on the cake. As a result, Coda decided to shed 15 percent of its staff in December 2012. That numbers has supposedly increased to only essential staffers who can help orchestrate a sale of the EV maker. As for what's next for Coda Automotive, that's anyone's guess. Coda did have plans to begin building a more sophisticated model but it was still several years off from becoming a reality. In the meantime, Coda was planning on offering its drivetrain as a standalone product. However, it's rumored that if that plan fails, and so far it hasn't gained much traction, it may be the end of the line for Coda. We called Coda's Media Relations department but was met with an automated response asking for a detailed explanation of the nature of the call. The message ended by saying someone from the communications department would call us back, however, we know for a fact that Coda's public relations officer is no longer with the company. Source: The Detroit Bureau