New Ford Electric Car and Hybrid Car Choices

New Ford Electric Car and Hybrid Car Choices

ford focus electricby John Addison

 

With gasoline prices over $4 per gallon in many states, Ford is rolling out a variety of exciting hybrid cars and electric cars.

In April, consumers will start buying the new Ford Focus Electric. Yesterday, I rode in this beautiful compact hatchback. I silently cruised down the streets unless you cranked on the impressive sound system. Drop the 60/40 split backseat and you could put a couple of mountain bikes in the back or a work project or home improvement tools and supplies. With the backseat up, you can seat 5 adults.

Ford is pricing the Focus Electric at $39,200, about $4,000 more than the Nissan LEAF. The 23kW Ford battery pack, with LG Chem lithium-ion cells, charges at twice the speed of the LEAF and has about 10 percent more range. By the end of the year however, the 2013 LEAF will charge at the same rate. Unlike the Focus, the LEAF includes an ECO mode, which may equalize the ranges. The LEAF also includes a DC Fast Charge port while Ford waits for a future SAE Level 3 standard.

Although you might gulp at paying $39,200, savings include a $7,500 federal tax credit, incentives in many states, and saving $1,000 or much more on gasoline. These tax breaks seem unfair to many, but keep in mind that our gasoline is half the cost of Europe due to U.S. subsidies and breaks for the oil industry.

Ford increasingly believes in customer choice. The gasoline sipping Ford Focus SE gets 40 mpg highway and is not even a hybrid. It starts at about $18,300.

Ford C-MAX Energi and Hybrids = Crossover SUVs with Great Mileage

Ford C-MaxIn the fall of 2012, Ford brings unparalleled fuel economy to the 5-seat crossover SUV segment. The C-MAX plug-in hybrid will allow you to drive the first 20 to 30 miles on a garage electric charge before engaging a fuel-efficient engine. It may rate over 100 mpg. The C-MAX lives up to its name. It maximizes the cargo and passenger space that can be fit on the popular “C” sized vehicle platform. Like the Focus, the C-MAX is a 5-seater. Drop the back seat and you have much more cargo space than the Focus. Price has not been announced. Our guess is that it will be under $40,000.

For customers that want to pay less up-front, Ford will also offer the C-MAX as a hybrid. It will be as roomy as the C-MAX Energi, but never get plugged-in. With a lithium-battery pack it will have excellent fuel-economy. The C-MAX Hybrid will compete head-on with the new Toyota Prius V, which gets 42 mpg combined and has 40 percent more cargo than the best selling Prius Liftback.

Ford Intends to Take Midsized Market Share from Toyota

When the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid goes on sale at the end of this year, it will offer the best fuel economy of any midsized sedan. It is targeted to deliver 46 mpg highway, 44 city, and 46 combined, beating the Toyota Camry Hybrid with its famous Synergy Hybrid Drive System. I have been very impressed with test drives of both hybrids, which are roomy, quiet, and smooth as silk to drive. The Camry uses NiMH batteries; the Fusion Hybrid uses lithium-ion.

Outdoing Toyota, Ford will also offer the Fusion Energi, a plug-in version that will deliver the first 20 to 25 miles of driving on a garage charge before engaging the gasoline engine. Pricing has not been announced. Ford will also emphasize customer choice with the Fusion available with a variety of non-hybrid configurations.

Ford’s Strategy to Lower the Cost of Hybrid and Electric Cars

Ford built 2.5 million “C” platform vehicles last year with many common components. The Focus Electric and C-MAX offerings will be built with over a dozen other vehicles on the same assembly line in Wayne, Michigan. Ford controls cost with flexible manufacturing, where it can quickly adjust to market demand.

Ford’s team of more than 1,000 engineers working on hybrid and electrification programs – including Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid – has grown so fast that the company today is announcing the conversion of its 285,000-square-foot Advanced Engineering Center in Dearborn, Mich., to electrified vehicle development. The new jobs are part of Ford’s plans to add more than 12,000 hourly and salaried jobs by 2015 in the United States. The company also has announced it is tripling production capacity of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the U.S. next year compared with 2011.

Over 80 percent of the Fusion Hybrid and Energi components will be the same, allowing Ford to achieve more cost efficiencies. With the C-MAX, we will see that Ford powersplit hybrids and blended plug-in hybrids share about 85 percent of the same components including electric traction motor, generator, inverters, DC/DC converters, electric accessories, transmission, and engine. Both the C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models, with a common chassis, will be built alongside the all-new 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich.

Three years ago, lithium battery packs cost about $1,000 per kilowatt. Now the cost is closer to $500. By the end of the decade, costs may only be $250 per kilowatt. Ford makes all of its lithium-packs and works with several lithium cell manufacturers to get the best price and battery chemistries separately optimized for battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid. Ford’s pack and volume strategy will lower costs of hybrid and electric cars.

Ford will Sell 100,000 Hybrids and EVs with Lithium-Batteries

Lithium batteries are everywhere. They are in your mobile phones, iPads, notebook computers, game players, music players, and a lot more. Soon lithium batteries will be in millions of hybrid and electric cars.

As electric and hybrid car competition intensifies, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Ford are in a race to sell the most vehicles with lithium batteries. I have driven cars from each of these automakers that use lithium batteries. The cars performed beautifully and delivered great fuel economy.

Toyota is bringing to market three vehicles with lithium batteries – The Prius PHV, the RAV4 EV, and the Scion IQ EV. These three give Toyota a shot at being the first automaker to put 100,000 vehicles on the road with lithium batteries. Toyota has over 3 million hybrids on the road with NiMH batteries. Why fight success? Toyota will be careful in switching to lithium-ion. Economics, reduced vehicle weight, and more interior room will eventually make the switch compelling.

Over 10,000 Nissan LEAFs have been delivered, putting Nissan ahead of the competition in the electric car race. Nissan will deliver up to 50,000 LEAFs globally this year. In 2013, a new plant opens in Tennessee with the ultimate capacity of 150,000 LEAFs per year plus 200,000 lithium battery packs per year.

General Motors and LG Group are jointly designing and engineering future electric vehicles, expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs. In 2012, GM will deliver up to 60,000 Volts and Amperas with LG Chem advanced lithium battery cells.

Ford will only use lithium batteries in all Ford hybrids starting in calendar year 2012 when it announces the new Focus using the Ford global C platform. Ford is currently second only to Toyota in global hybrid sales. Ford may be the first car maker to sell 100,000 cars annually that includes lithium batteries. When I lasted interviewed Nancy Gioia, Director Ford Global Electrification, she said that Ford has a 2020 goal of 10 to 25 percent of its vehicle sales including lithium batteries. Her best guess is that 70% would be hybrids, 20 to 25% plug-in hybrids, and 5 to 10% battery-electric. Everything from technology innovation to oil prices will affect the future mix.

Ten Thousand Additional Electric Car Charge Points for California

Ten Thousand Additional Electric Car Charge Points for California

OAK Electric Car Charging(3/23/12)

California already has over 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road and 2,000 public charge points. Over 10,000 new electric charge points will be added to give EV drivers added range. The charge stations will be built by NRG with private money, not public funds.

This will be the world’s largest electric car charging network and include smart grid technological advancements to level grid load, and energy storage and vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

California needs electric cars. Compared to nations, only two countries use more petroleum than California – the United States and China. The Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley historically had such severe health problems that Governor Ronald Reagan established the California Air Resources Board, which continues to encourage cleaner cars and fuel-efficiency.

California Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy

The California Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) have entered into an agreement where NRG will build a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) charging network in California, investing approximately $100 million over the next four years.

This fee-based charging network will consist of at least 200 publicly available fast –charging stations—installed in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County—which can add 50 miles of range in less than 15 minutes of charging.

The DC-Fast Charging will especially be helpful for drivers of pure battery-electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi I, many which were purchased with DC-Fast Charge Ports. Currently many of these electric car drivers are limited to ranges of 60 to 120 miles without access to fast charging.

Additionally, NRG’s EV infrastructure commitment will include the wiring for at least 10,000 individual charging stations located at homes, offices, multifamily communities, schools and hospitals located across the State. The charging locations will be easy for drivers to find with Google Maps, smartphone apps, and electric car navigation systems.

NRG California EV Charging includes Smart Grid and V2G

  • A minimum of 200 direct current (DC) fast chargers to the state.
  • A minimum of 10,000 parking spaces retrofitted with wiring necessary to charge EVs at multifamily buildings, large worksites and civic sites such as universities and hospitals.
  • Training and jobs for the installation and maintenance of these charging stations in
  • California.
  • Smart grid and grid storage services that increase the speed and power of DC fast charging, store electricity to minimize peak-period demand, and enable EV drivers to support electrical grid reliability with needed energy services through vehicle to grid (V2G).
  • Significant additional investment in California’s clean technology economy and hundreds of jobs in construction and EV infrastructure manufacturing, maintenance and management.
  • Approximately $100 million in infrastructure investment over four years, and $20 million in cash to go to the California Public Utility Commission.

Dynegy and Enron were famously accused of manipulating California’s energy markets leading to a crisis 12 years ago. The agreement, pending approvals and finalization, resolves outstanding litigation arising out of a long-term electricity contract entered into over a decade ago by a subsidiary of Dynegy, then a co-owner with NRG of the portfolio of power generating plants currently owned by NRG in California. NRG assumed full responsibility for resolving this matter in 2006 when NRG acquired Dynegy’s 50% interest in the assets.

“California already leads the way in the development of an alternative energy transportation sector and, with the price of gasoline above $4 per gallon and rising, all Americans need to be giving serious consideration to the increasingly attractive electric vehicle alternative to what former President Bush called ‘our national addiction to foreign oil’,” stated NRG CEO Crane. “This network will be built with private funds on a sustainable business model that will allow NRG to maintain and grow the network as EV adoption grows.”

NRG has been making major investments in utility-scale solar and wind. AeroVironment has been one of its charge station suppliers in Texas.

Over 7 Million Charge Points by 2017

California is often the first point of sale for new electric cars, which are then offered in other states, then all 50 states. Other states gaining momentum in electric car sales and public charge points include Oregon, Washington, Florida, Michigan, and Texas where NRG is also developing a charge point network for subscribers.

Clean Fleet Report forecasts 60,000 to 100,000 electric car sales and leases in the United States in 2012 and 200,000 in 2013. Pike Research forecasts 7.7 million charge points installed globally by 2017.

Toyota Prius C – Best Hybrid Car Under $19,000

Toyota Prius C – Best Hybrid Car Under $19,000

Prius c 2012(updated 4/5/12)

We can finally get a new Prius for under $19,000 ($18,950 + delivery cost – dealer discount). At 50 miles per gallon (mpg) overall, you can face down record gasoline costs with fewer trips to the pump. The newest member of the Toyota Prius family went on sale on March 12. This new compact Prius uses the same fuel-efficient hybrid Synergy drive as its classic midsized cousin and is at least $4,000 less expensive to buy.

Prius continues to be the world’s best-selling fuel-efficient vehicle, with more than 3.5 million vehicles sold worldwide.  Since its U.S. introduction in 2000, Prius – when compared to the average car – has saved American consumers an estimated $2.93 billion in fuel costs, 1.1 billion gallons of gas and 16.1 million tons of CO2 emissions estimates Toyota. IntelliChoice selected Prius as the Best Overall Value Passenger Car of 2012.

The Prius has been so successful that Toyota has expanded it into a family of four Prii: the Prius Liftback, the new compact Prius c, the larger Prius v crossover SUV, and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

New Generation of Toyota Prius Drivers

Toyota hopes that the new Prius c will find favor with younger shoppers seeking a smartly designed, fuel-efficient compact car packing advanced drivetrain and in-car technology including:

  • The highest rated city fuel economy estimate of any vehicle without a plug*; 53 mpg in the city, and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg
  • The most accessible Prius will feature a starting MSRP below $19,000 with proven hybrid powertrain and premium technology
  • Electronics including a standard 3.5-in. full color TFT multi-information display, hands-free phone capability, USB port with iPod® connectivity, and available Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™

Prius c drivers seatThe Prius c is smaller and lighter than the midsize Prius Liftback with 19.1 inches less length (157.3 vs. 176.4 inches OAL) and 542 lbs. less weight than the Prius Liftback (2,500 vs. 3,042 lbs.).  The Prius C is more roomy than some compact hatchbacks, but compared to the midsized Liftback the “c” has 7 less cubic-feet of passenger room and 5 less cubic-feet in the luggage area.

In adapting the Hybrid Synergy Drive to the smaller Prius c platform, each of the system’s major components were re-designed to reduce weight, scale, and improve efficiency.

OAL

OAH

OAW

Wheelbase

Curb weight

2012 Prius

176.4 in.

58.7 in.

68.7 in.

106.3 in.

3,042 lbs.

2012 Prius c

157.3 in.

56.9 in.

66.7 in.

100.4 in.

2,500 lbs.

The Prius c will be available in four trim levels offering desirable features, equipment, and enhanced capability giving consumers a compelling value proposition. Prius c provides many standard features such as automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display and Bluetooth® hands-free controls, and remote keyless entry with illuminated entry among a long list of standard equipment.

Prius c Hybrid Synergy Drive Propulsion

Prius c drive systemThe Prius c’s effective packaging design strategically locates key drivetrain components within the chassis to help optimize interior space and handling.  The compact gasoline engine, transaxle and power-control unit are optimally placed within the vehicle to help enhance weight distribution and lower the center of gravity.  In addition, the hybrid battery and fuel tank are positioned together beneath the rear seat, ideally distributing their mass within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution to help enhance handling. By locating the battery and fuel tank below the rear seat, the Prius c is able to offer 104 cu. ft. of interior volume (87.4 cu. ft. passenger volume, 17.1 cu. ft. cargo volume).

The Prius c’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system integrates the operation of components that include a gasoline engine, an electric motor within a Continuously Variable Transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter and a hybrid control computer. The hybrid control computer governs the seamless application of gasoline engine and electric power depending on driving demands and selected drive mode.

 

Gasoline Engine

Engine Output

Electric Motor Output

Total System

Output

Prius

1.8-liter, four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle with VVT-i

98 hp@5200 rpm

105 lb.-ft.@4000 rpm

80 hp

(60 kW)

134 hp

(100 kW)

Prius c

1.5-liter, four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle with VVT-i

73 hp@4800 rpm

82 lb.-ft@4000 rpm

60 hp

(45kW)

99 hp

(74 kW)

The Prius c relies on a SULEV (Tier 2 Bin 3) rated 1.5-liter in-line, four-cylinder gasoline engine that utilizes an Atkinson cycle to increase efficiency. This engine produces 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque, contributing to a total hybrid system output of 99 hp.

The Prius c’s hybrid system utilizes a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack that has been located under the rear passenger seat, near the center of the vehicle, and low in the chassis to help improve the center of gravity.

Prius c offers three distinct drive modes: Normal, Eco, and EV mode.  Eco mode reduces overall energy consumption by governing climate control and throttle to improve vehicle efficiency. Under certain conditions, the EV mode allows the Prius c to be driven solely by electric power for a short distance (under 1 mile) while remaining below 25 mph.

Hybrid Car Improved Handling and Safety

The Prius c’s body structure makes extensive use of lightweight, high-strength steel to help reduce vehicle mass and improve fuel economy. The strategic use of high-tensile-strength steel contributes to the vehicle’s ability to absorb and disperse impact energies helping enhance occupant safety. The high level of torsional rigidity afforded by the Prius c body structure allows the suspension to be more optimally tuned for ride and handling.

The front suspension uses a Macpherson strut design, and the rear rides on a tuned torsion beam. The coil-spring and shock-absorber characteristics of the Prius c have been tuned to enhance handling, flat turning, and smooth ride comfort.  Prius c is available with 15- or 16-inch wheel-and-tire combinations.  The 15-inch wheels are available in steel with wheel cover for base model or in aluminum alloy for elevated trim levels. Prius c models equipped with the available 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels enjoy enhanced handling thanks to a faster steering ratio (2.28 turns lock to lock), which helps quicken the vehicle’s dynamic response.

The Prius c is equipped with nine airbags strategically located to help protect the driver and passengers in the event of certain types of accidents.  The new 2012 Prius c, like all Toyota models, is equipped with the standard Star Safety System™, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

Youthful Exterior and Interior Design

The Prius c exterior design helps project a fun, youthful attitude for this all-new addition to the Prius family, while offering excellent aerodynamic performance. Extensive aerodynamic features were engineered into the Prius c to help achieve a 0.28 coefficient of drag. Adding character to this subcompact, the Prius c’s lower-body styling is wider below the beltline, featuring sculpted rear flares to help express a sturdy, athletic stance that communicates a more agile driving experience.

The Prius c’s available exterior colors include vibrant hues that are unique and expressive. The available colors for Prius c include three new colors – Habanero, Moonglow, and Summer Rain Metallic – along with Blue Streak Metallic, Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, and Super White.

The Prius c interior design seeks to create a space that is futuristic yet passenger friendly.  Using black as a basic interior color, the door trim, seat surfaces, and instrument panel feature treatments in lighter colors to help create contrast.

Display Audio and Connectivity with Entune®

The 2012 Prius c will offer three audio system configurations. A base audio system features either four or six speakers, depending on the model, and includes AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology.

The Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™ has six speakers and augments capability with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capability (with 3-month trial subscription to XM Select package), HD Radio™ with iTunes® tagging, and advanced voice recognition. Toyota’s Entune™ multi-media system functions through select smart phones’ interface that brings applications such as Bing and Pandora® to the vehicle audio display. It also features real time information such as traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks.

Buyers Can Test Drive Alternatives

Toyota Prius Liftback gives you midsized room, over 30% more horsepower, 5-seats, more options, and more cargo starting at $4,000 than the Prius C. It still delivers 50 mpg combined and commands a premium at resale.

Honda Insight is an alternative compact hybrid that has been selling for a few years. It only averages 42 mpg and is a bit less roomy than the new Prius C. You may be able to save at least $1,000 with the Honda Insight.

Volkswagen Golf Diesel gets 42 mpg on the highway and only 30 mpg in the city. The new diesels are an excellent alternative for those who mainly drive at freeway speeds, but they lack the fuel economy and regen of hybrids in the city. You might save a bit or spend more than a comparable Prius C.

The new fuel-efficient gasoline engines give you a number of choices at over 30 mpg combined that allow you to get a well-featured hatchback without the added initial cost of the 50 mpg hybrids. Choices include the Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and Ford Fiesta.

With the Prius C, you are likely to save thousands in fuel over the life of the car and do well at resale time.

U.S. Public Transportation Up – U.S. Oil Dependency Down

U.S. Public Transportation Up – U.S. Oil Dependency Down

Light Rail(3/12/12)

The United States is reducing its dependency on oil as we now consuming 18.3 million barrels a day, down from our peak of 21 million barrels a few years ago. Record use of public transit is a major factor – less solo driving in gridlock and we use less oil. Other major factors, of course, include high gasoline prices and more fuel-efficient cars. Since 96 percent of our transportation is from oil refined into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, we will take all the help we can get.

According to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, the second highest annual ridership since 1957. Only ridership in 2008, when gas rose to more than $4 a gallon, surpassed last year’s ridership. With an increase of 2.3 percent over the 2010 ridership, this was the sixth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. During 2011, vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) declined by 1.2 percent.

A number of U.S. regions demonstrated leadership in improving bus and rail systems, often doing more with less. The best systems use rail as the backbone of the system integrated with more cost-effective bus.

Light rail systems that showed major increases in 2011 include these regions: Seattle, WA up 37.2%, Dallas, TX  up 31.2%; Buffalo, NY up 15.6; North San Diego County up 14.8%; Salt Lake City, UT up 14.4%. These rail systems use local electricity, not foreign oil.

Cities with highest transit ridership use heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) to move millions. Heavy rail systems 2011 ridership growth was greatest in Cleveland, OH (12.3%), San Juan, PR (12%), Baltimore, MD (8.7%), Boston, MA (7.2%), San Francisco, CA (5.6%), Chicago, IL (5%), Miami, FL (4.9%), New York, NY (4.9%), and Philadelphia, PA (4.7%).

Buses, including bus rapid transit, are the heart of getting riders to their final destination. Cleaning the air and improving U.S. energy independence, most new buses are hybrid or run on natural gas. Bus systems with largest 2011 growth include Columbus, OH (10.1%), Saint Louis, MO (10%), Orlando, FL (8.4%), Miami, FL (8.3%), Washington, DC (7.1%), San Diego, CA (6.8%), San Antonio, TX (6.3%), Arlington Heights, IL (4.6%), Minneapolis, MN (4.3%), and Baltimore, MD (3.9%).

“U.S. public transportation ridership in 2011 is now the second highest ridership since 1957,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “What is exciting is that the uptick in ridership occurred in large, medium and small communities, showing the broad support that public transportation has nationwide. In fact, the largest rate of growth was in rural communities with populations under 100,000 where public transit use increased by 5.4 percent.”

“Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” said Melaniphy. “Since nearly sixty percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it’s not surprising to see ridership increase in areas where the economy has improved.”

Transit also helps car drivers by relieving gridlock. Transit helps reduce the burden on taxpayers to widen highways and expressways. Most tax-payer transportation funds go to widen highways. Transit is funded by federal, state, local, and rider fares.

It is an election year. Congressional Republicans tried and failed to only continue funding transit if states were forced to approve offshore drilling everywhere and approve eminent domain for the XL pipeline. That effort failed, but transit is still threatened with budget cuts and regional shutdowns. “There should be no doubt Americans need and want public transportation,” said Melaniphy. “Congress needs to pass a well funded, multimodal, multi-year transportation bill that will help meet current and growing demand.”

Fortunately, Americans act smart, even when Congress acts dumb. Millions look at smart apps like Google Maps and compare driving with transit. In a given week, more people intelligently mix transit, driving solo, driving with others, and some healthy walking. More smarts, less oil.

APTA 2011 Ridership Report PDF

Ten Ways to Reduce U.S. Dependency on Oil

 

Coda Battery-Electric Sedan Review

Coda Battery-Electric Sedan Review

CodaBy Tom Bartley (3/8/12)

I drove the Coda battery-electric car and talked to the Coda representatives extensively during the San Diego auto show. The Coda headquarters are in Los Angeles, the body and many components are Chinese, and their assembly is done in Benicia, California, less than an hour from Tesla’s new manufacturing site. I suspect that Coda is under capitalized, but they seem to be attracting enough money to keep going. Coda is offering the cars through existing dealers, having recently signed up Marvin K. Brown in San Diego’s Mission Valley. With the size of the battery pack at 31kWh, I guessed that the cost of the car was probably in the $40k and up range. I was surprised to learn that the price is in the $39,995 before tax credits and state grants.  At the LA Auto Show, Coda stated that the sedan had a 36kWh battery.

Coda had two test-drive cars at the auto show. The car I drove had great acceleration from the UQM 100kW motor even with a driver and 3 passengers.  It didn’t feel like there was any control system governing it to hold back.  The 333 VDC LiFeP Chinese battery, with 4 parallel module strings and 30 to 40 amp hours per cell, should provide 100 comfortable miles down to 10% SOC (State Of Charge). The 150-mile range in the brochure will rarely be achieved, but it’s there to compare with the range quoted by other EV manufacturers. The car had a nice navigation display and an adequate instrumentation dash board. There is a 2.2kW DC-DC converter for the standard 12 VDC hotel loads. I didn’t find out anything about the motor control inverter or battery cooling and management, but they have an active 2kW HVAC for passenger comfort.

The car had one unique feature in their braking regeneration operation. The regen kicked in about 1.5 seconds after releasing the accelerator and it seemed like a little more was added upon applying the brake pedal. Unlike Toyota’s hard, medium, and soft regen settings per driver choice, the Coda has only the one setting with the time delay activation.

The Coda people transported the car with an enclosed trailer that included a gasoline powered genset to recharge the cars. It seems that they couldn’t rely on an available public charging station. (They were probably all taken by Car2go battery electric Smart Car rentals. Car2go now gives EV owners a way to move the Smart Cars away from a charging station.)

Coda uses a J 1772 standard plug-in vehicle interface and two parallel 3.3kW chargers to provide a 6.6kW level two charge that refuels at better than 10 miles of range per 30 minutes of charge time. Coda has partnered with GE to offer a J 1772 interface that plugs into a standard 220VAC, 30Amp power outlet for $1000. No special wiring is required.

Coda has chosen to ride the EV wave rather than concentrate on any niche market.  In spite of the very positive reactions of the drivers from the test drive, the Coda sedan may have a tough time competing with all the other plugins coming out in the same relative price range.  I suggested that they look into selling CARB EV credits; it is likely that they have had internal discussions on the subject. For the big automotive manufacturers with over 100,000 cars sold per year in California, the penalty is over $5,000 per missing credit.

Top 10 Electric Cars