CODA Electric Car with 40% More Range than Nissan LEAF

CODA Electric Car with 40% More Range than Nissan LEAF

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.

CODA Specifications

Dimensions

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

Wheelbase…………….102.4 inches

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

Headroom

(front/rear)…………….. 35.5/31.7 inches

Shoulder Room

(front/rear)…………….. 53.0/52.4 inches

Legroom

(front/rear)………………41.3/30.3 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

Drive Ratio……………..6.54:1

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

Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi iBy John Addison (10/31/11)

I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher.

Mitsubishi will finish 2011 with about 5,000 electric cars on the road globally. Mitsubishi has taken orders for 400 of the Mitsubishi i in the USA and will start dealer deliveries in about 3 months. Nissan will finish 2012 with about 50,000 electric cars on the road globally and 20,000 delivered in the USA.

The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.

Mitsubishi i Meets Demands of Test Drive

I started each test drive at a Best Buys in Northern California. Mitsubishi is first touring the West Coast and later other parts of the country letting people take their EV out for a spin. Some showed up solo, others brought the family including kids and car seats. Best Buys will be putting some Mitsubishi i cars into their Geek Squad fleet. Best Buys also sells the Eaton Level 2 charger and can arrange the charger installation in your garage.

Being a pure battery-electric the Mitsubishi i cruised the first mile in near silence, demanding little work from the electric motor. Then I entered a freeway onramp where I was forced to accelerate into merging freeway traffic up a 6-percent grade. I shifted from ECO to Drive mode for better acceleration. On a flat the Mitsubishi can go from zero to 60 in 12 seconds. Up these steep freeway grade the Mitsubishi merged into traffic, slowly accelerated to 70 mph passing a couple of cars and trucks that were struggling with the hill which I purposely selected for this test drive.

When I reached the peak, I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. As I took a steep downhill decent, I shifted into “B” which aggressively applied motor resistance for regenerative braking. When I leveled out on Coast Highway, I shifted back into ECO mode that extends the electric range about 10 percent by smoothing acceleration. After 3 miles I ascended another steep hill. ECO mode handled the ascent just fine.

The Mitsubishi i handled curves well. It had a bit of a sports car feel due to its low center of gravity and rear-wheel drive handling with the electric motor over the rear axle finished the drive in stop-go traffic with the car handling lane shifts with ease.

Nissan LEAF Meets Demands of Test Drive with Ease

Nissan LeafOn the identical route, I drove my own Nissan LEAF that has been problem free in all driving situations for six months, rain or shine, day or night. The LEAF merged on to the 6-percent freeway grade with more ease than the Mitsubishi, as I shifted from ECO to “D” (drive mode). The LEAF reach 80 mph faster than the Mitsubishi I reached 65 mph. The LEAF has an 80kW electric motor; Mitsubishi 49kW.

As I descended towards the Pacific Ocean, I shifted into ECO mode. The LEAF does not have a “B” mode for extra regen braking, but like other electric cars it does put energy into the lithium battery pack during downhill, when braking, and even when the computer determines that extra energy can be captured.

Enjoying the drive along Coast Highway, I fishermen casting lines, surfers catching waves, and golfers hiking into the rough. Like the Mitsubishi i the LEAF climbed hills fine in ECO mode, handling windy curves with ease, and cruised the surface streets in silence. The LEAF seemed a bit more quiet than the already quiet Mitsubishi i.

Range Anxiety

The Mitsubishi i appeared to achieve 4.3 miles/kW; the 600-pound heavier LEAF only achieved 3.9 miles/kW. The Mitsubishi did not offer a precise reading, just a display showing battery use. The LEAF offered a precise read-out. I did push the LEAF to 80 mph, so the comparison is not perfect, but indicates that the Mitsubishi uses a bit less electricity. Since I have never paid over $40 per month to keep my LEAF charged; the difference is not much.

The lighter Mitsubishi i has an EPA adjusted range of 62 miles with its 16kW lithium battery pack; the Nissan LEAF has an EPA adjusted range of 73 miles with its 24kW lithium battery pack. Stay in ECO mode and stay below 50 mph and you are likely to have a 100-mile range in the Mitsubishi i and 120 in the LEAF.

In pure electric cars, range concerns are real unless you can afford a Tesla Roadster or the new Tesla Model S with a 300-mile range option. To extend range, I always drive my LEAF in ECO mode and rarely exceed 65 mph. I go for smooth driving and use cruise control. On 10 percent of trips, I use Charge Point or Google Maps to find public charging stations, and sometimes spend an hour or two on the computer in the café as I pick-up 10 to 30 extra miles of range. The 2012 LEAF has a Level 2 Charge of 6.6 kW/hour, double the speed of the Mitsubishi 3.3 kW/hour. For some people, that speed will matter.

The 2012 Nissan LEAF comes standard with both DC Fast Charge (CHAdeMO) and Level 2 Charge ports. The DC Fast Charge is an optional extra on the Mitsubishi and narrows the price difference between the two cars to less than $3,000. With either car, a DC Fast Charge can provide 80 percent range in about 20 minutes. Both cars include a cable so that a 110 volt outlet on a dedicated circuit can be used to trickle charge the car, which turns out to be adequate for most people, as we discovered when we had to wait a few weeks for the installation of our Level 2 garage charger.

Since the average American drives 40 miles per day, the Mitsubishi i will meet the needs of most people. Some will prefer to pay the extra $6,000 for the extra range of the LEAF. Because my wife and I have two cars, range has been no problem in our six months of driving. For longer trips, we use the hybrid and save the LEAF for most days. We are also helped with over 100 public chargers installed in the Bay Area where we live and drive.

If you need one car to meet all your range demands, an electric car may still be the answer if you use car rental, car sharing, and/or transit and rail. Others will be happier with a plug-in hybrid, which stays in electric mode for typical trips and acts like a hybrid for long trips. To extend range, just visit the gas station. The have also been impressed with my test drives of plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in. The 2012 offerings from Ford and Honda are also likely to be impressive.

Nissan LEAF offers more Passenger and Cargo Space

Nissan LEAF trunk baby strollerThe Mitsubishi i has 85 cubic feet of interior space, 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to 50 with the 50/50, split back seats lowered. The Nissan LEAF has 112/8 cubic feet of interior space, 14.5 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to much more than the Mitsubishi I when 60/40 split back seats are lowered without needing to remove the headrests.

In my LEAF, my wife can load the back for projects at the schools where she is a speech therapist. I can easily fit my bicycle in the LEAF by removing the front wheel of the bike. In the Mitsubishi i, both bicycle wheels would need to be removed and rear seat headrests would need to be removed. If you need to use a rear child seat or two, you will definitely prefer the Nissan LEAF. You will be even happier with the upcoming Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

I have been in a Nissan LEAF sitting behind a 6 foot, 4-inch driver, and then had him sit behind me. The car is a roomy compact that can seat 5. The Mitsubishi would be a tight fit for four big adults. To its credit, the USA version is bigger than the iMiEV driven in Japan and Europe. The Mitsubishi has more passenger space than some city cars I have driven like the Smart and the MiniCooper.

Both Electric Cars Get High Marks for Safety

I felt safe in both cars, even when merging into freeway traffic. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger Nissan LEAF, but this Mitsubishi i received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Nissan Leaf is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.

When driving in snow or heavy rains, some will fell safer in the LEAF with its extra 750-plus pounds of weight. If you regularly must deal with snow, ice, and wet roads, you might  do better with an AWD car than in an electric, but you’ll be making regular visits to the gas station.

Both the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan LEAF are wonderful electric cars that are currently being sold faster than they can be made. For some, the choice will be which car they get first. For others, $6,000 will be the deciding factor. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the entry cost of the Mitsubishi electric car is only $21,625. The savings of no gasoline and little maintenance, save electric car drivers $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

For city drivers fighting for parking spaces, the smaller Mitsubishi i will allow them to fit into spaces that others cannot and save big by avoiding paid parking. The Mitsubishi i is a maneuverable city car that’s fun to drive.

The Nissan LEAF is America’s most popular electric car. It has enough room inside for 5 people and a fair amount of cargo. It has surprising performance and about 15 percent better electric range than the Mitsubishi i. The 2012 LEAF Level 2 charges at twice the speed of the Mitsubishi i. If you need premium features like DC Fast Charging, back-up camera, and hands-free audio, then the price gap between these two cars is less than $3,000.

Select either and you can feel good about helping with our energy security, environment and never being stuck in line for a gas pump. Take a test drive, you’ll enjoy it.

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