In this case, the federal government sneezes, and central Ohio catches a cold.

That's the take from the Columbus Dispatch on the decision by electric-vehicle maker Coda Automotive to shelve plans to build a Columbus, OH, battery factory.

Coda said about two years ago that it would build the factory, which would've supported more than 1,000 jobs in the area. It said at the time that "Construction of the facility is contingent upon finalizing an incentive package with the state of Ohio and the approval of an application for a Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan (ATVM)." Guess what didn't happen?

Los Angeles-based Coda has been hamstrung on the proposed investment because the DOE has not yet responded to the loan request, which was filed around two years ago. Parts for the Coda Sedan are made in China, while the EV is assembled in Northern California.

Earlier this month, Coda sold its first models to California buyers. The company, which opened its Los Angeles headquarters late last year, sold its first Sedan ten days ago and was recently given an official range of 88 miles from the EPA.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      ev_ftw
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm all for advancing technology and keeping jobs in the US, but this loan would have been as close to straight out giving money to the chinese as you can get.
        marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ev_ftw
        @ev_ftw Yes with nearly all the components Out side of the US, it a bit difficult to see how the DOE, can contemplate investing money in Coda to expand US manufacting!
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      They asked for a $500 Million loan for Coda to make batteries. Did they really expect that to come through? What do they know about batteries? They are just a little company slapping an EV drivetrain into a Chinese glider.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        'Oh ye of little faith!' - and count me in as one of the 'ye'
        Sasparilla Fizz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Whether they expected it to come through or not depends on whether the DOE had said it was coming - seems lately the DOE has been saying money's coming expect it at about this time, count on it, invest based on it and then just decides to, well, not deliver (this isn't the first time we've heard this with the DOE loan program since the GOP made the DOE Solyndra loan a PR point for themselves). While I may not shed alot of tears for Coda - if the DOE said they were getting a loan, they should get the loan - be interesting to hear the real story if it gets out.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sasparilla Fizz
          The DoE never said they were getting a loan.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        "What do they know about batteries?" From Coda's website: "We house 2.2 million square feet of battery production facilities because of our joint venture with Lishen, one of the world's largest battery manufacturers. And we own our own battery-management system (BMS), thanks to our recent acquisition of EnergyCS, a leading BMS provider. For a nascent industry, we're proud of these facts. It means we're able to offer security in terms of expertise, financial stability, certainty of supply, and access to the world market."
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 2 Years Ago
      A123 could do much better but they won't sell to the small garage builder. You think the car manufacturers are pissed because they want money from the government and can't get it. I gave money to the government for American corps to produce American batteries and I want to pay more money to these corps for batteries but they won't sell them to me. Since I can buy these, quote, unquote, Made in America batteries from China is some consultation but give be a break American battery manufacturers you suck bad. OEM horrs, it would serve you right going bankrupt because you refused to sell to your biggest customer.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      probably for the best anyway. you know, with the bankruptcy coming up and all. brutal but true. don't shoot the messenger.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Years Ago
      If CODA could raise hundreds of private millions for their POC, then they should be able to raise hundreds of private millions for their newest BFD
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's great that the DOE has loan program that targets plug in vehicles and technologies and it looks like they spread it around in good manner - but when you don't come through with the loans (via delays or restrictions that are very hard to meet) then you end up doing more damage to this industry that you are trying to foster than if you didn't make the loans in the first place. All this seizing up of the loans started happening after the GOP made such a stink about Solyndra (the Wall Street Journal's top Green Company in 2010) - now they've made the DOE so gun-shy of fulfilling their loans its putting the companies depending on the loans at risk (mission accomplished for the GOP?). How many times have we heard of one of these firms who had thought the loan was coming for sure, then it gets delayed or just isn't coming and puts them into worse financial hock because they were banking and investing based on that money coming through. This will weed out anyone who was really needing the DOE loans, but I don't think that was the purpose of the DOE loan program. I wonder if Azure was waiting on any?
        1guyin10
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        The DOE was slow way before the GOP started making an issue of it. CODA has been waiting two years. Bright filed in 2009 and never got any money. Chrysler filed in 2010 and never got approval (even though they are very likely to repay). No. There is something else afoot with those loans and its not GOP pressure.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        They may have informally been told "No" long ago but it just isn't make public to hurt the companies.
        throwback
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        "because they were banking and investing based on that money coming through. " Then that is a mistake on their part. Coda and other companies looking to get on the government dole have to realize that the government is an amazingly inefficient organization. Banking on getting money from the Feds to keep your business going is poor management.
      1guyin10
      • 2 Years Ago
      That handful of cars they have sold so far apparently wasn't enough to convince DOE they were going to be a force in the market. Other than a longer range it doesn't seem to offer much, unless you are into the whole Chinese commodity car look. The Leaf is a much, much better car at a better price and even it isn't moving that well off the lots.
      DarylMc
      • 2 Years Ago
      It sounds familiar to the plight of Blade EV here in Australia. That is if you take any support from the government out of the equation. Like Blade, Coda seems to have made a decent EV and no one wants to know about it. It convinces me that quirky syling like the Leaf or Prius is actually beneficial.
        marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DarylMc
        @DarylMc Daryl, there is no comparison! Blade have been producing EV's for 5 years, without any meaning assistance. Coda, qualifies for US federal rebates, state rebates etc. Ross Blade is an engineer and manufacturer of impeccable reputation. See my comments, for the history of Coda.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          @DarylMc The Blade is based on the current model Hyundai Hatchback (Australia's biggest selling small car). Coda is derived from a PRC copy of a 16 year old Mitsubishi. The last bodywork in Australia capable of producing a suitable glider for Blade ceased production 28 years ago.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          @DarylMc Daryl, if you ever get the opportunity to travel to Castlemaine in Victoria, you should take the time to visit Ross Blade at his factory. Ross is very generous with his time. With the lack of supporting EV infrastructure, the Volt configuration is better product for Australia than EV's. Even Thornley of Better Place is a nice enough sort of a guy, but his ideas are simply economically unfeasible. Even EV delivery vehicles and hybrids finds it hard to compete with the price of LPG, no charging network, and lack of government support. The Australian EV 'community' is very small, and dominated by a politically negative faction of leftist extremists. Ross Blade could not continue in business, but for his export sales to NZ. (truly, a prophet has no honour in his own country) .
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          Hi Marco Your passion about Blade always used to puzzle me a bit. But I think the difference between your view and mine is due to the fact that you have actually owned EV's and I just talk and dream about it. I had a more detailed look at Blade EV web site yesterday and I'm starting to see why you like them. In Australia we have exactly zero Volts or Leafs you could go out and buy right now and here is a company which can offer even better range yet has zero support from the government right here right now. Call it an epiphany.
          DarylMc
          • 2 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          Hi Marco Blade has had no government support I know. But I was trying to make the point that styling seems to be a critcal factor regardless of range and performance. And up to a point possibly the more quirky the better .
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      Enerdel bet big on the Th!nk (an obviously wrong bet which doomed them). A123 batteries cost too much per kWh, which makes it hard for them to compete with the Korean suppliers like LG Chem (which supplies the current Volt and the Focus EV). There's also the Chinese suppliers that some companies like Coda and Wheego use. The Japanese car companies will obviously greatly prefer Japanese battery companies (same with the Germans, but at least A123 got BMW onboard), so A123 can't make much headway there. But overall A123 was more successful in finding multiple buyers: BMW, GM, a couple of smaller truck conversions like Eaton and VIA, plus Fisker and Tata. And don't forget Johnson Controls which is supplying for the Transit Connect and various Ford PHEVs. And also the DOE already funded Tesla, which supplies packs (primarily using 18650 cells from Japanese suppliers) for the Toyota RAV4-EV and the Mercedes A-Class EV and the Smart ed.
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not given to conspiracy theories, but Coda baffles me ! The background of Coda (as I have posted before) is intriguing. To be brief, Coda's directors and investors are people like corporate raider, failed EV speculator, Miles Rubin, BP Oil company boss, ( and environmentalist), Lord John Browne. Steven “Mac” Heller, former head of Goldman Sachs Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Worldwide and Investment Banking Division before and during GFC. ("Mac" seemed to survive better than millions of his fellow investors!) . Hedge-funds, and Private Venture Capital Funds, currency sharke and shadowy figure in the finace industry. Coda is an EV conversion of an old ICE produced by obscure PRC car maker, Harbin HF Automobile Industry Group Co Ltd (Hafei). . Haifei, is a complex equity web of companies controlled by the Peoples Republic of China Weaponry Equipment Corporation. This Corporation is in turn owned by the a section of the Communist Party that operates 'special Secret State Security assets'. (including an Industrial Espionage School, located at a PLA base, sort of a cross between the Harvard School of Business and CIA Operative Training Centre). Coda battery is sourced from, Tianjin Lishen. Lishen has an even more complex shareholding, but is basically controlled by China National Offshore Oil Corporation.(CNOOC). CNOOC is a State owned enterprise, who ethical history would make Exxon and the CIA look like boy scouts!CNOOC, has been involved in everything from heroin dealing, to human rights abuses on a world scale.. Of all the projects that the DOE, could fund, Coda is a project the DOE should avoiding investing taxpayer money. Coda has nothing special in the form of technology, engineering, pricing, or innovation! This company has all the worst of Fisker, and none of Fisker advantages.
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Marco, Thanks for the well researched background. BTW: What are/were the advantages of Frisker such that the DOE felt compelled to invest in them?
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Granted, Fisker is a great car stylist.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Marco, Marco, Marco "Fisker Karma, has looks and a definite market appeal to its target audience." Is that really all you can come up with for why my country should borrow money from China to invest in the Frisker ? CODA and Frisker: some great technological breakthrough? ultra ultra low emissions ? new manufacturing techniques that will revolutionize the industry ? incredible, new, super efficient vehicle (MPG, MPGe) ? gobs and gobs of American jobs ? (Finland, China, ???) Sorry, just don't get it. If CODA is given a DOE loan, I will be even more disgusted by this (I'm speechless) government agency.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          @EVnerdGene I know you don't agree, but the Fisker Karma, has looks and a definite market appeal to its target audience.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          @EVnerdGene Well, from my point of view, I can see a possibility of Fisker remaining viable long enough to repay the DOE investment. There is also no doubt that Herick Fisker is a bona fide automotive identity. Coda,, on the other hand, is much harder to define ........
        Nick From Montreal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Totally agree with you here. Unlike most other EV project, CODA lacks a story and/or a central visionary figure like Lutz, Musk, Fisker of Ghosn. We have yet to see a picture of 80+ year-old Miles Rubin next to a Coda. Even that would be charming and explain the car's lack of looks and performance. "Looks awful but it works!". It's a project born from (expert) financial calculations, not passion. Their first "clients" are highly suspect as they are only identified by their first name. Even Aptera reservation holders were proud to wave the flag. They haven't published the number of reservation holders, only that they have "many" orders. Yet, it's not possible to find a single proud reservation holder on the web. Hopefully, they can pull a Hyundai and go from ugly utilitarian cars to beautiful affordable ones.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Nick From Montreal
          @Nick From Montreal "It's a project born from (expert) financial calculations, not passion." That's what worries me! What financial calculations? Coda is a company with a lot of heavyweight financial guru's, but very little engineering or industry expertise. In fact, if an observer had a suspicious mind, it would seem to be more about buying up US technology and exporting it to the PRC, than importing PRC technology to the US. Why would the US DOE finance Tianjin Lishen, a company owned by PRC government Oil company, and a PRC arms manufacturer,owned by a section of the Communist Party that operates 'special Secret State Security assets'. including an Industrial Espionage School, located at a PLA base, (sort of a cross between the Harvard School of Business and CIA Operative Training Centre. Let's be honest, the Coda is very dated technology, and approach. It makes the compromised Ford Focus EV, look positively brilliant in comparison. All the senior people involved with Coda, both in the US and PRC, have shadowy and checkered business histories. It's astonishing with all that talent, and financial backing, that a far more viable model design couldn't have been devised. The DOE, should really scrutinise this appropriateness of this loan.
      Nick From Montreal
      • 2 Years Ago
      For those interested, The What Drives Us podcast devoted an entire show to CODA and talking to Aaron Cohen and Larkin Hill of CODA Automotive. Lots of questions answered. I'm warming up to these guys/gals... URL (Replace "dot" with "."): whatdrives dot us/podcast/episode-103-meet-coda-automotive You're welcomed ;)
      motorhead
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obummer is trying to make chicago welfare recipients of everyone. Everyone wants to take the easy approach; stick your hand out and hope politicians sees some political advantage to giving you money. Why should the governement be in the business of funding GOOD ideas? If your idea can't raise money in private markets, it is probably not a good idea. Why should the government be in the business of funding BAD ideas?
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @motorhead
        Sigh Goverment is always in the process of funding research. NASA budget includes a lot of R&D. DARPA is a lot of research. And the government funds thousands of other research projects including medicine, science, and abstract mathematics. Sure not all of these pan out, but then the government isn't out to make a profit from research. You don't always know that an idea is bad before you invest in it. Besides, the DOE program is doing better than expected: http://green.autoblog.com/2012/03/14/clean-energy-federal-loan-guarantees-cost-46-less-than-expected/
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @motorhead
        Well the fact that they did not get any money proves your ideological theory wrong. Derp.
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