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CODA Sedan Takes On Sold-Out Nissan Leaf, Offers Online Ordering

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
September 25, 2010

Too late for a 2011 Nissan Leaf? How about checking out a CODA? In the wake of news that Nissan has maxed out its orders for the highly anticipated Nissan Leaf plug-in electric automobile (with 20,000 prospective owners accounted for), many eco-conscious car buyers are left looking for alternatives when it comes to parking a battery-powered vehicle in their driveways. While Nissan plans to open up the Nissan Leaf ordering process again sometime in 2011, in the meantime an upstart company called CODA Automotive is offering electric car fans an enticing offer - especially when taking into account its unique method of marketing its vehicle, as described in an article published by The Detroit Bureau.

If this is the first time you are reading about CODA Automotive, you are not alone - the California-based automaker has kept a relatively low profile over the past several months as it put the finishing touches on its debut vehicle, the CODA sedan. Now that the automobile is almost ready for prime time, CODA has begun accepting deposits on its electric sedan. However, unlike other EV options, you can't head down to a local CODA dealership to lay your money down, or even check out the car - instead, you must use the company's web site to place your order and make the $499 refundable deposit that is required to reserve your CODA.

The website ordering strategy is one facet of CODA's online-only vehicle sales platform. By eliminating the need for costly brick and mortar dealerships, CODA is in theory able to pass the savings down to those buying its electric sedan. Vehicles will be delivered directly to new owners, while service facilities and 'driver education' centers offering additional information and test drives will also eventually become part of the CODA sales process. Although the latter two will be initially restricted to the state of California, CODA plans to begin delivering its sedan by the end of 2010, and eventually expand its operations to the rest of the country - including Hawaii - through 2011.

The CODA sedan is being offered with an MSRP of $44,900, which is significantly more than the $32,780 base MSRP for the Nissan Leaf. Although the vehicle does qualify for a federal $7,500 tax credit, as well as a $5,000 credit in California and a $4,500 credit in Hawaii, the Nissan Leaf also qualifies for those same programs. No matter how you slice it, the CODA is $12,000 more than the Leaf and almost $5,000 more than the Chevrolet Volt.

That being said, CODA buyers get more for their money in a few crucial areas when compared to those choosing to park a Leaf in their driveway. Of greatest interest to most electric car buyers is the fact that the CODA battery pack is substantially larger than that used by the Nissan EV, which means that the CODA sedan features a more extensive range of 120 miles before needing a recharge. This is 20 percent greater than the 100-mile range offered by the Leaf. Charging time for the CODA from empty to full takes six hours using a 220V source, and the car can hit a top speed of 80 miles per hour. The battery pack found in the sedan features the same eight-year / 100,000 mile warranty as the Nissan offering, and the car itself comes with a three-year / 36,000 comprehensive warranty.

CODA is looking to shake up the EV market in two ways: through the availability of a battery-powered alternative to the already sold out Leaf, and through the use of direct-to-consumer sales of its electric cars through the Internet. While it might be priced at a premium compared to some of its competitors, electric vehicle fans should welcome the competition - and the low-hassle online ordering system - that CODA is bringing to the market.


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