• Nov 22nd 2010 at 7:53PM
  • 25
"We can't afford to build a car that somebody is not going to buy."

Coda Sedan – Click above for high-res image gallery

Between the "production adjustment" (i.e., delay) and the recent resignation of CEO Kevin Czinger, you might think that things are looking down for Coda Automotive. You'd be wrong. At least, the message we heard from the LA Auto Show, where Coda finally has its first major auto show presence, is nothing but onwards and upwards.

The highlight of the company's booth, unsurprisingly, is the $44,900 all-electric sedan, which is now scheduled to arrive in the third quarter of 2011, with customer and journalist test drives taking place in April. The car on display is a bright canary yellow with mean black wheels, is surrounded by what the company is touting as a "zen meets tech" theme. Anyone who visits the booth during the show this week is getting a preview of what the company's first store will look like when it opens in Los Angeles in March 2011, Sean Blankenship, Coda's senior vice president of marketing, told AutoblogGreen. Blankenship said the store will be a way to "translate the brand identity into a physical environment."

Ever since the production delay was first discussed internally – something that happened just three to four weeks ago, Blankenship said – the company's marketing team has been looking forward conducting more marketing research to make sure that the company produces vehicles with exactly the right colors and interiors that customers want. "We can't afford to do the traditional OEM push, just load the lot full of cars with silver, white, whatever," Blankenship said. "We can't afford to build a car that somebody is not going to buy." Read on after the jump to find out what else Coda can't afford to do (hint: it's screwing up the debut of Coda's one and only vehicle).


coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show

Live photos copyright ©2010 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Since Coda is putting all of its eggs into one sedan-shaped basket, getting it right is a priority. This is the message that both Blankenship and Steven "Mac" Heller, Coda's interim CEO, delivered to AutoblogGreen. Heller said the 6-8 month production delay will give Coda a chance to refine its deployment strategy and to make 100 percent sure that the production plan builds in multi-week buffers so the tooling and other parts of the production process can be adjusted if needed. As Darryll Harrison Jr., Coda's director of product communications, told AutoblogGreen, "maybe the original plan was a little aggressive and didn't allow for the extra time."

Heller said the delay, "is perhaps an excess of caution to handle any issues that may come up." An example of such an issue is to "job balance" the 100+ work stations on the assembly line. Job balancing mean to make sure all every station can finish its tasks in roughly the same amount of time. Heller said this is a totally normal process and clarified that the line has been job adjusted before. "It has not emerged that there are job balancing issues," he said. "What we've done is build in enough time to make these adjustments if they are necessary." Crash testing, too, is moving along, Heller said, confirming that over 40 vehicles have been crash tested by an outside lab at Coda's request and the company has also done some computer modeling. "We are on schedule and on time with the crash testing and this will be an extremely safe car for consumers," he said.

As for the quality of the electric sedan, Blankenship said Coda is shooting for the same level of fit and finish that you would see in a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry. On top of this, Coda is introducing a unique buying experience with the Coda Valet, which Coda describes this way:
The day you purchase your CODA Sedan you will be assigned a CODA Valet, a personal assistant to help with all things CODA. The Valet will also be your main contact as long as you own your vehicle.
If needed, your CODA Valet will assist you with the electrification of your home, which includes an initial assessment, any necessary permitting, and the installation of your Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) by a trained professional. The CODA Valet will deliver your vehicle to your home when it's ready and show you how to properly operate it.
Additionally, your CODA Valet will provide guidance related to any problems you may experience. When service is needed, your CODA Valet will schedule appointments with authorized CODA Service Centers and will pick up your car, take it to the service center, and return it to you good as new
.
As Blankenship said:
We're not just bringing a new technology to market, we're bringing a car to market with new technology, we're bringing a new buying experience and we're bringing a new service experience, so it's a lot of heavy lifting.

coda electric powertrain

The delay also means that Blankenship can conduct December marketing research panels and get more data to define what the first production vehicles will look like. Again, Coda wanted to make it clear that work like this was done in the past, they are just giving themselves more time to get things right for the launch. No one would tell us exactly what it was that caused the electric Sedan to be delayed, just that things will be better this time around. Blankenship said Coda first did market research in November 2009, for example, but now, Blankenship can do more:
I want to get the mix right, I want to understand how that mix is being received by consumers. That's going to be hugely important over the next month. ... There are things we can pull from our competitors, too. It was real interesting to me that a majority of the pre-orders on the Leaf want silver. That's fantastic for me to know that.


coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show
  • coda sedan at the 2010 la auto show


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've test driven the Leaf and didn't care for it. The hood sloped down so quickly I couldn't see any part of the car forward of the dash and couldn't be sure I could avoid the concrete pillars on the way out of and back into the parking structure. The rear roof pillars were wide enough to completely hide an adult, no matter how close and I worried about the safety of the people around the car. Give me the safety of others (children especially) over styling any day, and I suspect the Coda will have that.

      I don't understand this fascination with silver. Silver is not a color. It's a fancy name for gray and gray is a primer.

      I appreciate the Coda's larger batteries. Being retired, my average commute is about 10 miles a day, but twice a week I have an 80 mile round trip plus that 10 miles. That puts a couple of BEVs out of the running from the get-go and puts the Leaf in the high anxiety zone.

      With Leaf out of the running for me, Coda and the Electric Focus are my two remaining contenders. The Ford people all but denied the existence of an electric Focus on my visit to the LA car show. I'm still eager to see its specs as they fall into place and suspect Ford's customer delivery date will slide at least once too.
      IamXD
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, it really does not photograph well in Yellow... ugh...

      Planning the assembly line now? It looks like these guys just figured out how far behind they are...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't say anything bad about CODA.

      It would be like kicking a dying dog.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "It was real interesting to me that a majority of the pre-orders on the Leaf want silver. That's fantastic for me to know that."

      I get a feeling that just repainting the Coda silver still won't make me want one... I am however interested in having that skateboard platform so I could thinker with it a bit. They should just sell these as a kit for 9,999$.

      BTW, wasn't GM supposed to offer the Volt without the ICE engine for hobbyists?
        • 4 Years Ago
        That is not a skateboard design.

        A skateboard design will have a lower frame (independent of an upper frame) and would include suspension and steering.

        This is just the battery pack, motor, controller and wheels laid out for display.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The sad part is that with minimal cosmetic changes, this could have been an okay-looking car. Not looking great, but okay, and maybe with a chance of selling to people who'd prefer a more conventional sedan over the Leaf's hatchback and distinct styling.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most Abused Platform on the market today...why would the chinese do this to themselves, the car wont sell at that price when everyone knows its just a Daewoo lacetti/Chevrolet Lacetti/Buick Lacrosse/Buick Regal/Suzuki Reno/Chevrolet Optra with batterypacks. If i want an electric golf-cart or a remote control car ill consider the Chinese. But with options like the Leaf, Prius, Tesla, I-MIEV, Fisker Karma and even Zenn Motor Co. I Doubt the Coda will make any significant dent in the competition. Yellow is a colour only a mother could love, when i think yellow i think taxi...so is this destined for that fate?
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's the most shocking aspect to this car is that Porche designed the body...
      I think they got ripped off...the design team must have been some SPAM company called Porrche China
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wait, you mean it's not just an old Kia?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The body was modified by Porsche and Pininfarina, but is based on the Chinese market Saibao. Porsche also did some other engineering work on the car related to aerodynamics and safety.

        The platform underneath is a modified Mitsubishi chassis.

        I'm not happy about Coda's delay, but it's not really an unusual issue regarding BEVs and other highly-anticipated advanced vehicles. The advanced battery of the Coda sedan seems to be its real strong selling point, so as long as that holds up to its promise, I'm happy to see the company soldier on.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Porsche China....LOL!!!

        This company has a body..interior...rolling chassis...elec motor,,,what's missing.....battery pack...you'd think they'd put something out in this tough and highly competitive emerging market rather than rambling on about colors of their cars.

        Working electronics.......that's their problem and that's why the delay.

        They should have bought a Management System from a reputable supplier and it sure looks like they went the cheap chinese way and brought aboard a crew of dolts to work on the most critical component on the platform.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I get it . . . . it is a bumblebee.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looking at the platform - is it really a rear wheel drive?
      With motor in the trunk and half empty space under the hood?
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, its FWD. The pic is looking at it from the rear. There is really no reason it couldn't work the other way around in a RWD configuration though.


        Coda is in a tough spot. Nissan, GM, Ford, Toyota - they can all afford to loose money on every electric car they make for the next three or four years. Coda can't. They will surprise me if they ever deliver a car to a consumer. I also don't see Coda as having anything that anyone else in the business doesn't already have, so one would have to wonder who would buy their technology if they sold it.

        That said, that skateboard would fit under a lot of vehicles. If they could get a toehold, they could expand their line without too much trouble. All they would need is a van or SUV body to drop on it.
      gregmlr
      • 4 Years Ago
      The styling reminds me of a Suzuki Forenza.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a marvel of engineering ... take a CKD Chinese Hafei, quietly ship it to CA, get two guys with screwdrivers to put a new logo on the trunk lid, et voila - you have a $45K toy for the environmentally minded people who don't know how to spend their money.
      Wondering how they came up with the price - 10% above Volt, 50% above Leaf, 100% above Prius.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "We can't afford to build a car that somebody is not going to buy."
      Then close the doors!
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