Coda Automotive‘s first model, the just-revealed electric Coda sedan, is about as far as you can get from the Tesla Roadster or Fisker Karma — and that’s the point. Low-speed electric carmaker Miles Electric Vehicles launched Coda today as a separate brand with an independent board and management from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Miles with the goal of producing highway-capable electric vehicles priced and designed for the mainstream.
Today we got a peek at the $45,000 sedan that the company plans to roll out in California next year, and eventually across the country. Coda says the car will get a full charge within six hours at a 220V outlet (it can also plug in at 110V) and have a 90- to 100-mile range. With two hours of charging, it should go 40 miles. It will have a lithium iron phosphate battery pack made in Tianjin, China by a new joint venture — also announced today — between Coda (40 percent stake) and China-based battery cell giant Lishen (60 percent).
The Coda sedan has been in the works for well over a year now, under several names and just about as many price points. While Miles initially estimated the sedan would cost about $30,000, the Coda unveiled today is set to carry a price tag of $45,000 — $5,000 higher than the price set for GM’s Chevy Volt and $64,000 less than the Tesla Roadster.
That puts it in the high end for the mass market. But spokeswoman Kara Saltness emphasized to us in an interview recently that’s the realistic base price, saying at the higher price buyers won’t have to pay extra for “options,” or basic amenities that most people expect in a mainstream vehicle. CEO Kevin Czinger said in a call with reporters today that the only extra option planned for the vehicle is rapid charging capability for fleet customers, at a cost of $300-$500. For any other upgrades, the company plans to direct customers to “authorized aftermarket shops.”
Built with a wide range of partners, mostly in China, the new sedan is slated to launch in California in 2010, starting with a 200-300 vehicle test fleet. (Czinger said the model has already passed more than half of the required crash and safety tests.) If national distribution follows, it won’t be until after 2010. Coda aims to produce just under 2,700 vehicles next year, ramping up to a max of 20,000 in 2011.
Down the road, Coda expects to consider options to expand its business beyond building and selling cars. According to Czinger, Coda owns or co-owns all of the battery technology going into the sedan. The company “may look at selling battery systems” — which it developed with Energy CS and other partners — to automakers in the EU and U.S. in about 1.5-2 years, after it ramps up production through the joint venture with Lishen.
Like so many companies in this space, Coda has its eye on stimulus funds to set up battery manufacturing stateside: Czinger said the Coda-Lishen battery JV partnered with an unnamed U.S. company to file a request with the Department of Energy on May 19 — the deadline for the Electric Drive Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative, a grant program funded as part of the stimulus package.