2012 Coda Sedan at the GGEVA meeting

Coda Automotive customer deliveries of electric car in March, and a brief test drive


We get a short test drive of the long-awaited all electric car from Coda Automotive that is now being delivered to dealers, with customer deliveries beginning in March.

Coda Automotive is in the final stretch before beginning first customer deliveries of the company's all electric sedan. Over the weekend a Coda team came to the Golden Gate Electric Auto Association (GGEVA) meeting to show the car and offer test drives to a crowd of electric car enthusiasts from all over the SF Bay Area. It was a repeat visit for Coda, from one two years earlier to the same group, and demonstrated just how far Coda's engineers have come in the Coda Sedan's fit and finish and development.

Before offering test drives there was a presentation by Coda's new VP of Sales, Marketing and After-sales, Thomas Hausch. He is yet another industry veteran hired by Coda as the company steps into the role of selling real cars to customers.

The Coda Sedan is partly manufactured by a Chinese automobile manufacturer, and is shipped partially assembled to a facility in Benicia, CA, near San Francisco, for final assembly. It is roughly the size of a standard size sedan, with an outline that is completely compatible with what we think of as a normal car. However, under the hood and under the passenger compartment is an electric drive train with no hint anywhere of the gasoline tank or engine or anything else we might think is a normal car. If cars like this become normal, we will collectively have to rethink what a normal car is, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

The Sedan comes with a 31 kilowatt-hour battery pack offering a 125 mile range on the UDDS test cycle, for an MSRP of $37,250. It is also available with a 36 kilowatt-hour battery pack, a 150 mile range, and an MSRP of $39,500. In both cases the cost of the Coda Sedan is comparable with the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and Chevy Volt, while offering a much longer electric range.

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Comments

I drove it at the meeting. Coda's website has removed all reference to the 36kWh battery, and now appears to only offer the 31kWh battery, making the car useless for my needs. Other than that, the short, flat test drive didn't show any problems, other than the pre-existing lack of a 'B' mode for descending steep hills or an option for L3 charging. Accel was soft at first but picked up (when above 20 mph according to the Coda rep). With the front seat all the way back I had to splay my knees in the back seat (6'0", 34" inseam), but foot room was okay. No spare, and the rear seats fold down but don't provide anything close to a completely flat load floor; I'm guesstimating a 20-30 degree slope. I liked the steering as far as I could test it, and the ride was unobjectionable; no chance to test the handling. No heated seats, steering wheel or (I believe) outside mirrors. Nice, simple 3 round dial HVAC controls. In short, it felt like what it looked like, a Toyota Corolla circa 2000.
I am scratching my head over what's happened with their battery pack size. Coda issued a press release on Jan 9 describing the 31 kwh pack as an option, and that they'd supply the car with both battery pack sizes. You're right, however, the website today only mentions the 31 kwh pack, and not the 36kwh (other than that press release). If I recall correctly, in the meeting the speaker described the 36 kwh pack in the future tense, as something they plan to offer in the future. I believe Coda wants to have a price advantage over the Ford Focus EV and Nissan Leaf, and chose a smaller pack to get a lower price, etc. But does this mean anything in terms of a technical inability to deliver the slightly larger pack? Unclear.
I have been driving a Leaf for months and it is a great car, this Coda is a SUPER car! I had a chance to drive one this weekend in SF and could not believe the way it drove, it was quick, it handled like a Sports Sedan and the seats and visability were excellent. I must say that Coda took its time to get it right with good( range and great fit and finish. I see so much BS on Electric cars and it is wonderful to see someone really come up with a car like this one. There are only a few choices in this segment but for my money I will go CODA!
I agree with your assessment about it handling like a sports sedan. I'll enjoy those executive looking leather seats, when my wife picks hers up Friday, as well. The magazine pics don't do the car justice, since it seems to look better in person than the pics. The range is better than all other than the Tesla, but wish they kept the larger battery option.
I was impressed with the driving, handling and finish. I didn't think they would make it into a nice looking car, but it's well on its way. The little grill in and outtake here and there have definitely helped it. As far as the battery pack issue, there something they're not telling us. When I last spoke to them, they only talked about their intriguing battery management system that even monitors humidity in the cells and general electronics. My guess is that they felt they could save money by not offering the 36 kWh pack and squeezed a little more of the 31.

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