Coda Automotive to Launch All-Electric Model this Year

Santa Monica-based CODA Automotive plans to launch its self-titled plug-in electric car by the end of the year. The launch date will coincide roughly with the much higher profile launches of Nissan’s Leaf AEV and Chevrolet’s Volt plug-in electric car.

The five-passenger Coda will be a modified version of the Chinese-built, gas-powered Hafei Saibao 3. The Coda is roughly the same size as the Chevrolet Cobalt and features decidedly understated styling.

With a range of 90-120 miles between charges, however, Coda executives say it will suit the needs of most U.S. consumers. Coda’s senior vice president of sales and distribution said, “Consumers want real range.” Charging can be accomplished in two to six hours.

Speaking with journalists last February, Coda Automotive CEO Kevin Czinger said the company’s focus is on perfecting its electric battery technology. Czinger said, “We have the first and best mass-produced battery pack.” He also pointed out, “We own the intellectual property on our battery system and advanced electronics.”

The Coda four-door sedan will be powered by a 33.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Coda’s production model involves importing the vehicles’ bodies and battery packs and Mitsubishi-made chasses from China. Final assembly and inspection will be carried out at Coda’s facilities in Santa Monica.

The Coda’s lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs, featuring 728 cells, are being produced through a joint venture with China-based Lishen Power Battery. Lishen also supplies non-automotive batteries to Motorola and Apple.

The battery packs are small enough to allow their placement beneath the vehicles’ seats and durable enough to carry an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.  Nissan and GM have announced that the battery packs for their Leaf and Volt vehicles will offer the same thresholds for their battery packs. Coda will offer a three-year, 36,000 mile warranty on the rest of the vehicle.

Coda hopes to sell 14,000 of the AEVs in 2011. After the $7,500 federal tax credits and other incentives, the Coda sedan will be priced in the mid-$30,000 range.

The Coda’s lithium-ion battery pack will power a small 134 hp motor capable of 221 pounds-feet of torque, teamed to a single-speed transmission. The Coda will have a top speed of 80 mph.

The Coda sedan comes with four-wheel independent suspension, front and rear MacPherson struts and 17-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels. An optional eight-inch navigation system featuring real-time traffic and weather updates will also be available.

The Coda sedan is scheduled to debut at the Los Angeles auto show which will run from November 19 – 28.

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