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Coda Sedan – Click above for high-res image gallery

Kevin Czinger, president and CEO of Coda Automotive, has drawn the electric vehicle (EV) battle line, and it's not where most of us expected it to be. Instead of competing on price, the vehicle that grew out of the Miles neighborhood electric vehicles will fight it out over features. The tell? Coda announced yesterday that the all-electric sedan will cost $44,900 ($37,400 after a federal tax incentive of $7,500). This is much higher than similar offerings from Nissan and the plug-in hybrid Volt from General Motors.

So, why price the relatively unknown EV so high, compared to the better-known vehicles? As Czinger told AutoblogGreen ages ago (or, at least, that's what it feels like, but it was really last October), the secret to the Coda Sedan's success is its battery. This week, he reiterated this stance when he said his car has something those others don't: a big (33.8 kWh) lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. The Leaf has a 24 kWh pack and the Volt just 16 kWh. Also, Czinger said, Coda's pack is reliable in all seasons and will pretty much work in any weather or climate in the U.S., from well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit through to conditions a bit above 100 degrees. This is because the Coda Sedan uses a very high-rate 6.5 kW air compressor that takes dehumidified and either heated or cooled air and recirculates it over the pack. Coda said this reliable battery will provide 120 miles of range, and that might be why Czinger told reporters in a conference call yesterday:
I think that what the EV1 showed is that price is not the decisive factor in electric cars. Let's see what the market says. I think the 40 percent additional range from a 40 percent larger battery is absolutely vital.
This may or may not be true, but last year, Czinger told us that the sedan would have a sales price of under $30,000 in California. This didn't happen, but California residents can get close if they and the Coda sedan qualify for the state's $5,000 rebate on top of the $7,500 from the Feds.

On the call, Czinger praised Apple's marketing strategy, saying that representatives from some of the big automakers have said to him that if they could use an Apple store/mall-based sales method – as Coda is planning to do, with one store, on top of online sales – they would use that model. It looks like Czinger also approves of the other sales tactic Apple is known for: expensive products.

Another connection Czinger wants to draw between his car company and Apple is the passion of the customers. "From a brand standpoint, we are a product and a movement," he said, noting that even though Nissan is promoting its all-electric offerings, the automaker is also looking to increase the number of ICE vehicles it sells in the coming years. Coda, on the other hand, is all about electric vehicles, and EVs only. We've long said Nissan is making a big bets on EVs, but it looks like Coda is the automaker that's really rolling the dice on battery-powered automobiles.


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  • 49 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Coda is far from being comparable to Apple:

      1) Tesla were first in using Apple's store model for selling cars.

      2) Apple works very hard on ***beautiful design***. I don't see evidence of that on their car. The bland "low quality" look will hurt them more than anything else. Give me something that looks like the Model S for the same price, and it's easier to swallow.

      3) Actually, Apple's computers are less expensive than PCs with comparable specs. Currently, nobody can build a tablet for less than the cost of the iPad.


      Still wish them good luck...Takes balls of steel to start a car company...
        • 4 Years Ago
        doesn't seem pininfarina or porsche are that proud of anything they did for it, otherwise we'd be seeing some nice promo photos that would definetely include the pininfarina badge. boring, not daring, even if a daring look would have cost exactly the same(or maybe some of the bodypanels come from existing lines for a corolla..).

        • 4 Years Ago
        The Coda was designed by Pininfarina. We might disagree on the effectiveness of the final result, but it is a high-end design. Porsche was also involved in some visual tweaks.

        The chassis might be sourced from China, but it's a licensed Mitsubishi design.

        The motor is sourced from UQM, and is the same model as the two in the Fisker Karma.

        I don't think you're giving Coda enough credit for the quality that's there.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree with every point except the last. You can always find a computer with the same or better hardware specs at a cheaper price than an Apple.

        There are multiple tablets that are way cheaper than the iPad, but Android 3.0 isn't out yet, so they don't have Android Market at the moment and they don't support as high a resolution and are not comparable. The tablets from major manufacturers all include a phone and 3G so they are a step above even the 3G version of the iPad, but they obviously cost more if you compare to the Wi-fi only iPad. Once Android 3.0 comes out you'll see lots of tablets comparable to the iPad that cost less.
        • 4 Years Ago
        1) agree
        2) agree
        3) not so much. I can build a similarly spec'd PC for $400 less than a Apple product. In fact, I have several times. And the chinese have already built a cheaper tablet.
        http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364334,00.asp
      • 4 Years Ago
      PRICE is crucial to almost any buyer, but early adopters might trade off price for exceptional design and special features.

      However the CODA model incoming has, for me, simply boring design and really nothing special that I can find. The Aptera, for example, has both unique design and some more interesting details, like the solar panels on the roof and the door opening format.

      The Renault Zoe is another package with many novel design details.

      The CODA is, for me, simply another repackaged four door sedan, and without any ingratiating history of quality or reliability. And a PRICE that exceeds that of the much more complex Chevy Volt....

      YIKES !
      • 4 Years Ago
      Car looks boring. I wouldn't buy it if I had the money to buy it. I'd go with the Leaf. Nissan dealerships all over and the car just looks futuristic.

      Sure the battery doesn't have thermal management, but then again they have the warranty.
        • 2 Months Ago
        The Leaf does come with 3 years of roadside assistance, not that I'll need it. I know how to read a gauge on the dashboard.

        They will sell about 25,000 Leafs through the end of calendar year 2011. They already have 19,000 pre-orders (and are starting to take firm orders in launch states).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Warranty won't help you when you're driving in Nevada and your battery overheats and you're stuck on the side of the road... Hope Nissan gives out AAA memberships with every Leaf.

        Coda is doing what they think they need to do to stay in business. People that have money and want to make a statement will buy it.

        Nissan will sell a grand total of 3k Leafs next year in the US, GM will sell 10k Volts, both the MiEV and Smart EV are barely pilot programs with small city cars.

        Coda wants to sell 15k cars in one year, think about it, how many BMWs 3 series are sold in one month? How many Lexus? How many Mercedes Benz? Coda will sell all they can make next year, mark my words.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @beavis
        'Nissan will sell a grand total of 3k Leafs next year in the US,'

        I think you are looking at the sales projections out to March 2011.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My first thought was that Coda would come in at the same price as the Leaf but offer more bang for the buck. Larger pack with more range for the same money was the largest selling point with Coda. Turns out I am not suppose to care much about price, looks, and the manufacture.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Czinger has worked in the car business for, like, a day and he thinks he knows how to price a car. Please! He thinks it's some gotta-have gadget the people will fall all over like a Kindle. This is the same guy that thought it was a great idea to try to get people to grocery shop over the internet and you see where that idea has gone. All the dot-bomb delusionists are now trying to build electric cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Come on guys. It's worth a little extra for Chinese quality.

      /s
        • 4 Years Ago
        That was mean spirited. lol
      • 4 Years Ago
      Coda CEO: "we believe pigs fly"

      how's that for a czinger! : )

      but seriously, GM and Nissan greedily overpricing their vehicles was an opportunity for Coda to seem more reasonable, instead they went overboard. I frankly hope they will pay for their greed with a swift bankruptcy as a general lesson to others so we can dispense with this disgusting milking of those of us who fight for good and get the ball rolling already.

      you see you can buy a Nissan Versa (gas Leaf) for 9999$, take the engine out and all it's many supporting parts, put in a 1400$ motor, a 2000$ controller, 33.8kWh iron phosphate for about 13000$, bit for wires, charger, vacuum pump, maybe aircon pump and end up around 30k$, all with overpriced DIY retail parts. and probably do 0-100km/h in 6 seconds.
      including surplus Nissan engine, starter battery, starter motor, alternator, fuel pump, gas tank, air and oil filter, radiator, water pump, exhaust pipe, catalytic converter.

      I'm not really loving the 45k$ price nor the lies to justify it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "my guess is they make the Leaf for around 17k$"

        Your guess is uninformed.

        Even Nissan says they are losing money on the Leaf for at least the first few years of production.

        "...as the company's U.S. sales and marketing chief Brian Carolin stated, "Over the course of the vehicle life, it is profitable – in year three."

        The battery alone for the Leaf costs what you figure for the whole vehicle.

        "Mark Perry, Nissan's chief product planner for North America, tells The Wall Street Journal that the actual cost is a little less than $750 per kilowatt hour, bringing the total to just below $18,000."

        http://green.autoblog.com/2010/05/15/nissan-leaf-profitable-by-year-three-battery-cost-closer-to-18/


        I think the Coda is fairly priced for its capabilities. I agree that having 40% more *reliable* range from a larger, better-managed pack can be a big selling point. As far as aesthetics, well, I don't think the Coda looks terrible. Some people want a car that stands out, and some people don't - so I think Coda's conservative styling will further differentiate it from other EVs and attract buyer who may not want to stand out, but still want as much EV as they can get.
        • 4 Years Ago
        everyone also says that lithium batteries cost 750-1200$/kWh. but they are wrong.
        it might be worth noting that both GM and Nissan have said they are making money on the cars iirc.

        I don't know how much Nissan has actually spent but I would take a 5bn$ claim with a grain of salt. maybe even lithium salt.

        my guess is they make the Leaf for around 17k$ (under a certain volume assumption).
        in high volume it might be significantly cheaper depending on exactly how much their marginal cost (production cost per unit ignoring initial investment) is on the batteries and how overpriced the factory may have been.
        I welcome any relevant Nissan bean counter correcting me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jason, if one is clever it is possible to deduce many things with high accuracy and probability from great distance and little direct access. I have a good knowledge base from which I make my conclusions.

        Albeit fiction and therefore contrived, I recommend the new BBC Sherlock miniseries as a way to expand your horizon and appreciate the power of deduction. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing. british shows can be quite horrible vis a vis doctor who :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I stand by my statements"

        aka - "I know I'm wrong but I'm too pompous to admit it"

        Unless you work for Nissan, you don't know how much the battery, or the entire vehicle costs to make, and you probably never will. Most people that work for Nissan don't even know that.

        Nice try though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "GM and Nissan greedily overpricing their vehicles "

        What nonsense. Everyone says Nissan will initially lose money on Leaf and you say they "greedily" overpriced ?!

        Nissan is spending 5 Billion on EVs. They have to sell millions in the next decade even to get a decent ROI on that investment ...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I stand by my statements.

        remember that the head of Audi USA said electric cars are for idiots and a few days later Audi HQ announced an electric super car : )

        Nissan didn't make their own battery factory so they could spend 2-3 times the money they could buy them at from existing factories. They did it to make it even cheaper.
        I stand by my statements.
        • 4 Years Ago
        found this video showing how the Coda battery is made
        http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/powering-the-future-clips-electric-vehicles.html
      • 4 Years Ago
      Only way Coda could have sold some was in states that Leaf & Volt aren't available - like NY or WI or IL or MA.

      Early EV adopters are either price conscious (like us !) or status conscious. The price conscious would obviously go for Leaf - a MUCH better value. Status conscious wouldn't touch a Chinese made bland EV noone has ever heard of with a barge pole.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No one compares it to the Ford/Magna Focus EV coming out next year ?


      CODA 900 pound battery pack claiming 33.8kw-hr. Is that total kw-hrs or usable ?

      Tesla Roadster 9xx pound battery pack claims 53 kw-hr, and some say that is "usable" battery capacity, not total? Any knowledge about that one?
        • 2 Months Ago
        I think the Tesla is around 56kWh rated (and 1000lbs) and I'm guessing the Coda is rated capacity too so they might use a bit less in practice. the Coda is iron phosphate which is quite different from the Tesla laptop chemistry.
        Lishen make the Coda cells.
        interestingly the Tesla pack is not particularly weight optimal, they only achieve an effective specific energy of around 125Wh/kg. with newer batteries and less additional weight it is possible to have around 50% more energy in the same weight pack so a range around 550km in a Tesla Roadster with no other design changes.
        Enough to comfortable go from LA to Vegas on one charge. or just about enough to go from LA to Frisco.

        and a vehicle thoroughly built for efficiency could easily go above 1000km on a single charge with current battery technology. that would alleviate the worst range anxieties : )
        actually a pretty bizarre distance to travel on a battery :)

        with the battery chemistries being worked on in labs it should soon be possible to reach 2000km range on a single charge although such exercise will remain expensive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If CODA can't even gain the support of EV-enthusiasts (as evident by the comments on this blog), what chance do they have?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Um... sure.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If the Model S comes in at the price/performance Tesla says it will I imagine the 12K difference won't keep many from stepping up to the Tesla, unless the Coda's price is already breaking their bank (and those for whom 40K is a lot are probably going to pick up a Leaf if they can). If Fisker makes the Nina(?) in the 50K range, it too will eat this thing's lunch. But as somebody else mentioned, maybe they're just milking the early adopters while they still have so little competition. It doesn't look like they will have this field to themselves for long though. As I've said before I'd like to see an EV succeed at any price because it will prove the viability of the market for them, but I just have my doubts about this one.
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