By 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.
By John Addison (11/18/11)
CODA New Price of $39,995 with 50% Larger Lithium Battery
My test drive of the new CODA showed that this new electric car is similar in handling and performance to the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric which I have also driven. CODA has at least 40 percent more electric range than the LEAF and Focus Electric which each have 24 kW lithium batteries in comparison to CODA’s 36 kW lithium iron phosphate battery. Battery size isn’t everything, but it’s a lot when driving an electric car 80 miles on the freeway and wondering if you will get home. Even with Nissan and Ford’s Eco modes, slightly lighter weight, and advanced engineering, CODA is likely to offer 40 percent more electric range.
For the past six months, my wife and I have been delighted with driving our LEAF. We have experienced 120 mile range on quiet streets going 30 mph, but on the freeway at 65, we starting worrying after driving 60 miles. For longer trips, we use our second car which is a hybrid. With the CODA we could have made some trips that were not possible or practical with the LEAF. CODA gives their car a target range of 150 miles per electric car in comparison to 100 for the LEAF or Focus Electric.
These 3 electric cars support the Level 2 standard for charging. CODA and Ford charge at 6.6 kW/h, double the speed of the 2012 Nissan LEAF. This speed rarely matters at home, but when using a public charger it can make the difference between working at a nearby Starbucks for one hour instead of two. Since there are over 10,000 public chargers installed in the U.S., I’ve had great personal luck finding and using public chargers but double the charge speed would be great. The 2013 Nissan LEAF will match the Ford and CODA 6.6 kW/h.
Unlike the CODA, the current LEAF also includes a DC Fast Charge which offers an 80 percent charge in 26 minutes, or a lot less if you’re battery is only partially depleted. Nissan’s Mark Perry tells me that there are over 500 DC Fast Chargers planned for installation, but only a few in states like Oregon currently operational.
CODA is a four-door compact sedan that comfortably holds 5 people. It no more calls attention to itself than a Camry or Civic. With 14 cubic feet, it has more trunk space than competitors such as the LEAF, Volt, and Focus Electric, and much more than the Mitsubishi i. The competition however is five-door hatchbacks. Lower their backseats and plenty of cargo space is available when only traveling with two or three people.
My test drive car CODA costs about $41,400 because it included air conditioning. The interior is nice but not as nicely appointed as competition from Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet and others. It doesn’t have all the infotainment and telematics, but it probably has all the features of your current sedan. Like other cars with the instant torque of an electric motor, I had no problem accelerating around slower cars and maneuvering through hectic LA traffic. The CODA is certainly worth a test drive if you are considering an electric car and want more range.
CODA Corporate Overview
A car buyer wants some reassurances that a car company will be around as long as their 8 year lithium battery warranty. CODA’s past struggles with multiple changes of the CEO, difficulty to secure financing, and years of delay in manufacturing will cause some to buy from Nissan, Ford, and others.
CODA tells me that they are starting manufacturing. Then again, they told me that two years ago. A few cars are planed for delivery to their investors by year end. In 2012 Q1 deliveries to fleets like Enterprise Car Rental and SDG&E are expected. By mid-year consumer deliveries should be underway.
CODA Holdings is a privately held American company that designs, manufactures and sells all electric vehicles and battery systems. CODA’s initial vehicle, the CODA Sedan, a four-door, five-passenger all-electric vehicle with a range of up to 150 miles per charge.
Phil Murtaugh, CEO of CODA Holdings, comes from GM with extensive automotive executive experience. CODA headquarters/design/engineering center are in Los Angeles, California for its 225 employees.
Investors are made up of large institutional investors and high net worth individuals including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. CODA has global joint-venture with Lishen Power Battery, a global battery cell supplier to Samsung, Motorola and Apple, for the design, manufacture and sale of battery systems called Lishen CODA Energy Systems. Together, CODA and Lishen developed a lithium iron phosphate battery cell for transportation and utility applications including renewable energy (wind and solar power) storage.
To reduce the capital intensive nature of the automotive industry, CODA controls all core vehicle design and engineering work internally while partnering with a global network of established manufacturers and suppliers. In total, CODA has more than thirty suppliers and partners on four continents. CODA’s supply chain partners include BorgWarner, UQM Technologies, Energy CS, Continental Automotive Systems, Porsche Design Studios, Delphi, Celgard, Novolyte Technologies, OMITEC, Lear and HELLA.
Vehicle Range………..up to 150 miles1
Top Speed……………. 85 mph (Electronically Limited)
Charge Time………….6 hours from 220V (30AMP EVSE)2
Occupancy…………….. 5 passenger
Cell Chemistry………..Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4)
Configuration……….. 728 cells (104s7p)
Energy………………….. 36 kWh
Nominal Voltage……. 333V
Track-Front……………. 58.2 inches
Track-Rear……………… 58.3 inches
Overall Length………. 176.4 inches
Overall Width…………67.2 inches
Overall Height………. 58.0 inches
(front/rear)…………….. 35.5/31.7 inches
(front/rear)…………….. 53.0/52.4 inches
Trunk Space……………14.1cubic feet
Passenger Space…….82 cubic feet
Curb Weight…………..3,670 lbs
Motor Power ………… 100 kW/134 hp (peak)
Motor Torque…………300 Nm/221 lb-ft
Transmission…………..Single speed gear reduction
Suspension……………. Four-wheel independent with front
MacPherson struts & rear shocks
Steering………………… Rack-and-pinion with
electric power steering
Air Conditioning…….2.0 kW cabin cooling
DC:DC Converter….. 2.2 kW @13 V output
Charger…………………. 6.6 kW/240VAC input
or 1.3 kW/110 VAC input (back-up charging)
Wheels………………….. 17-inch 5-spoke wheels with 205/45/RF17 all-season tires
Brakes…………………… Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Traction Control…….. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Airbags…………………. 6 airbag system (2 advanced frontal, 2 seat-mounted side & 2 side curtain), front seat occupant detection system
Seat Belts……………….3-point, pre-tensioned, load limited (front seats)
LATCH System………..Child Seat Restraints
Limited Vehicle………. 3 years/36,000 miles
Limited Battery……….. 8 years/100,000 miles