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Motor Trend Names CODA 2013 Car of the Year Contender

You know times have changed when something like Motor Trend chooses the CODA as its 2013 Car of the Year Contender. Are we there yet or what?

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If you’ve ever wondered when are we going to get there, today might be a good day to read the news and check out what is happening in the automotive journalism industry. The venerable Motor Trend is naming the 2013 CODA as one of its cars on the Car of the Year Contender. Maybe we are here after all when a traditional car magazine names a new kid on the block as a potential car of the year, and at that, an electric car.

CODA. What hasn’t been said about the CODA yet? From its unassuming lines to its respectable performance, after spending a day behind the wheel of the CODA in mixed traffic, I never experienced any range anxiety at any moment. You can read more about here, CODA Officially Removes The Range Anxiety, here, CODA Says Electric Car Benefits A Good Deal To Many, and there, CODA Gives You 10,000 Free Miles.

Motor Trend’s High Praise. Once we get over the shock, Motor Trend recognizing the unassuming CODA that by far over delivers in the performance department compared to its competition is not such a surprise. The car has more range, more room and seemingly, longer battery life than any other electric car on the market today for roughly the same price. It should not be too surprising to see a traditional car magazine turn an intriguing eye to a car with so much potential.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder. One thing that actually works to CODA’s advantage is that it blends into any garage, on any street without raising an eyebrow. In fact, it will no doubt find strong support with people who just need a regular looking sedan that runs frugally on electricity. For you and I who happen to love “beautiful” cars, the CODA might look like any other car, but for many, this is not a problem. But the CODA is beyond a cheap Chinese knock off. The CODA’s design holds a few surprises many might not be aware of and should answer a few questions. First of all, the car is based on none other than a Mitsubishi 2000 platform reworked from the current Hafei Motor Co.'s offering. In other words, CODA went in and redesigned a lot under the surface in order to increase rigidity, structural components and make the car safe enough to drive on our highways and roads.

The Pininfarina Touch. For a 10 year old design the CODA doesn’t look bad and certainly holds its own next to current sedans. The reason behind is that the great Pininfarina had its hands in sculpting the overall look and proportions. This explains why the CODA can get away with a decade old design in a sea of look-alike sedans. We could even go further and bet that the CODA will be a collector’s car being one of the first one out there with top performance for its generation and pleasing lines, all things considered.

To quote Motor trend: “But the CODA has a subtle but undeniable intelligence all its own. Two of the biggest problems facing EVs are cost and the stability of lithium-ion chemistry. It’s hard to dramatically lower battery cost, but, hmmm, how about fitting them into an already cost-amortized, Chinese-built sedan? That goes a long way to offset the cost of the batteries, and maybe allows a few more of them to be poured into it (here, 31 kW-hrs worth, compared with the Leaf’s 24 and the Fit EV’s 22)” In other words, CODA has a cost amortized platform, was able to use a superior lithium battery chemistry, thus improving range, they claim 125 miles in mixed traffic, something I have no problem believing. But this also means the genius of the CODA was that the battery was able to be squeezed in the floorpan and take no room out of the trunk.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of the CODA. It not only looks good on paper but over delivers in the performance segment, especially considering its initial purchase price. What is amazing to see such a well-read traditional automobile media outlet as Motor Trend putting the CODA on its 2013 Car of the Year Contender.

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Tina Juarez (not verified)    November 2, 2012 - 5:31PM

I had a great angle for CODA but they didn't pick it up..a pity really... I thought I could really sell CODAs if I could offer Buyers a deep discount on a MADE-IN-AMERICA chassis in 2-3 years that would fit the CODA they bought 'today' battery pack. This way they could get a more American product and a new- looking Electric car after about 3 years and not have to re-invest in an expensive battery pack.. SInce they turned back the DOE,there is no hope for that. The power package is really quite nice, but with China's lack of QA, not a car I'd want to drive for too long.

Nicolas Zart    November 4, 2012 - 11:49AM

In reply to by Tina Juarez (not verified)

That's a terrific angle Tina, and I'm sure someone else might be interested in. As far as the quality, I saw what they did to re-engineer the car and if this works out, it should be as safe as any others on the road. I share your feeling about the seemingly lack of quality form China but that is also partially our fault for insisting on cheap goods :)

The next step is to see how the car does in the crash tests. That will pretty much answer our questions. I hope you find someone else for this great idea.

M. Hall (not verified)    March 20, 2013 - 1:43PM

The high content of Chinese parts may be a disapointment, but Coda seems to have assembled a practical vehicle using the plant in California. Why is this any different than other off-shore companies who decide to build in the U.S.? I have seen the Coda, talked to engineers and sales representaives, and am convinced this vehicle could do well. I like the "old" styling of the Coda instead of the "bug" shape or "tennis shoe" shape of some others: boxy sedan does well for me.

But, what stops Americans from buying an electric vehicle? The $37,000 price tag is not significantly more than other vehicles that still burn fossil fuels. I personally drive a smaller "urban" electric vehicle and enjoy the low cost of three cents per mile for electricity. Perhaps a larger vehicle like the Coda, Leaf or MiEV will cost more to recharge (wow, maybe six or seven cents.....) but compared to twenty to forty cents per mile for a gasoline vehicle; hmmmmmm let me do some math calculations.

We should all be buying this technology by now. I don't drive more than one hundred miles daily, and you probably don't either. Take the plunge, make your next vehicle a Coda and find out how cool it is to pass each and every gas station on your way to work. It is an outstanding feeling.

Anonymous (not verified)    March 20, 2013 - 11:40PM

In reply to by M. Hall (not verified)

You are right 100%. I even offered Coda some great marketing ideas. No dice. Never mind. I finally got 1/2 of a LiFePo4 racing pack for my car. It will, at least get me back on the road about town. The shattered arm from the PG&E smart meter explosion and fire can almost handle single-handed shifting again. It would've been nice to be driving a Coda in this year of recovery, well, I've only been able to drive automatic since January.
I've been mentoring a couple of HS teams with their own EV projects since I can't work yet and they are beginning to make real progress, so I haven't been just sitting around whining because I can't afford a Tesla, or any other EV - Homemade is fine with me..Old skool is better than no skool!

Nicolas Zart    March 21, 2013 - 1:57PM

In reply to by M. Hall (not verified)

Very good point, and indeed are there any cars 100% made in one place with only domestic products? No. So its a car that originally was bought by the hundreds of thousands and has been reworked by CODA to meet the more modern and stringent current safety crash ratings. This is one excellent car, especially once you take into consideration the price versus performance factor.

I think most people are aware where their money goes when they fuel up but the question is do you eventually spend at the pump, where 40% goes abroad or do you pay upfront for where most of it stays locally. Quite a dilemma if you are cash strapped but if you have the disposable, a no-brainer.