Remember the Coda, the eponymously named all-electric sedan from CODA Automotive? Some folks might, especially those in California, where the vehicle launched last year. Offering advanced lithium-iron phosphate battery technology that provided notably more range and quicker charging times then the first wave of mainstream EVs, the Coda sedan went on sale to much fanfare—but little volume—in March of 2012.
Well, it’s a bit of the ol’ “good news, bad news” for the company, which is currently restructuring its business under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code: On the one hand, EV shoppers hoping the Coda would expand its availability to other states are now out of luck; on the other, its nifty battery tech is poised to have a significant impact on stationary energy-storage systems.
The party line from Phil Murtaugh, CEO of CODA Holdings: "After concluding a comprehensive review of our strategic options, the Board of Directors, management team and senior lending group have concluded that focusing on the Company's energy storage business presents the best opportunity moving forward. We believe the restructuring process that we have entered into today will enable the Company to complete a sale and confirm a Plan that maximizes the value of its assets, serving the best interests of our stakeholders."
In fact, thanks to a diversification program begun in 2011, the company already is shipping its new products to new customers for use in commercial, residential and industrial applications across the country.
But to be clear here, CODA will be looking to “monetize value of its existing automotive business assets,” and that means the end of the line for the Coda sedan—which, as noted on the next page, did offer its buyers some distinct benefits.
Requiem for a Coda
The CODA Coda certainly had its share of quality challenges, as one might have expected from a car that started life as the Chinese Hafei Saibao, but what it lacked in refinement it made up for with its EV performance—which came courtesy of that lithium-iron phosphate battery system developed by the U.S. company CODA Automotive. After CODA loaded its powertrain into the Coda, the car was capable of delivering an EPA-certified all-electric driving range of up to 88 miles, along with efficiency grades of 77 MPGe city/68 MPGe highway/73 MPGe combined. Further, thanks to a 6.6-kW onboard charger, the vehicle can be powered-up in about six hours using a 240-volt charging unit.
Now frankly, those MPGe numbers are pretty low for an EV, but the Coda’s range still stands right near the top of the heap, and that’s despite the fact that in the year since its launch, mainstream EV manufacturers have had time to catch up some. Thus, the 2013 Coda still stacks up against other popular EVs as follows:
- Tesla Model S—200+ miles
- Coda sedan—88 miles
- Fiat 500e—87 miles
- Honda Fit EV—82 miles
- Ford Focus Electric—76 miles
- Nissan LEAF—75 miles
- Smart Electric Drive—68 miles
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV—62 miles
Two other points are important here: First, Tesla = wow. Second, the Coda achieves that range even though it’s nearly the size of a traditional compact sedan and much larger than the entries from Fiat, Honda, Nissan, Smart, and Mitsubishi. And if the Coda could get that kind of range by combining its cutting-edge battery system with a definitely dated vehicle platform made in China, who knows what it would have done in a car that actually was optimized for EV travel?