Yesterday morning, the latest entry in the highly competitive electric car market rolled off the assembly line in Benicia, California. The Coda all-electric sedan seats five and has a range of 125 miles on a fully charged battery.
It has taken Los Angeles-based Coda Automotive two years longer than anticipated to bring the car to market. The delay has allowed Nissan and General Motors to establish firm footholds in the California electric vehicle market but, with gas prices not hovering above $4.35 per gallon in the Golden State, many feel that the timing is right for a third competitor to enter the arena.
Addressing the crowd during the Coda’s launch ceremony, the company’s executive chairman Mac Heller said, “Never has the case for what we do been clearer.”
Coda has taken a dramatically different approach to production than its much higher-profile California-based all-electric vehicle competitor, Tesla Motors. Tesla vehicles will be built at a converted auto factory located in Freemont, California. But the conversion process has placed Tesla behind schedule. Coda outsources the majority of its manufacturing to China. Engines are being built in Colorado by a third-party manufacturing company, and final assembly is taking place in Benicia.
Heller said, “We have wanted not to reinvent things that didn’t need to be reinvented.”
This approach has allowed Coda to bring its all-electric vehicle to market with a mere $320 million in venture capital investments – a shoestring budget when compared with other alternative energy car companies including Tesla and Fisker Automotive. Both Tesla and Fisker have accepted massive loans from the U.S. Heller said Coda has applied for federal funding but the application is still pending.
The Coda sedan will reportedly have a sticker price of $37,250, just slightly higher than the Nissan Leaf which sells for $35,200. Federal and state incentives will reduce the price by around $10,000.
Although nationwide sales of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf have been disappointingly low, sales in Coda’s environmentally-friendly home state of California have been relatively brisk.
Director of electric vehicles for the Del Grande Dealer Group, Rick Curtis, is confident that the Coda will sell once its Coda of Silicon Valley opens its doors next week. He says there is “plenty of desire” for all-electric and hybrid electric vehicles in his market. In fact, he says the group has been struggling to meet the demand. “We couldn’t get enough Leafs, we couldn’t get enough Volts,” says Curtis, “and this [the Coda sedan] is our answer.”
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