Coda Automotive, the recently launched EV, is now in a bit of a bind. After being two years behind its scheduled launch - only to be received lukewarmly by the market - then it is an uphill climb from there. This is compounded though by the recent frontal crash safety review, which only received just two stars.
Another bad omen is the company’s recent move of laying off fifty of its three hundred odd staff.
According to Forrest Beanum, Coda Senior Vice President for Government Relations and External Affairs, “Coda has released approximately fifty (50) or 15% of our workforce across all functions to streamline our operations and right-size the Company. The Company is taking this action to better position our business going forward. We remain committed to the continued development and distribution of our products.”
He added, “The quality and safety of our products is of paramount importance. Coda vehicles meet all applicable U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and achieved an overall four (4) star rating in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing.”
The company reacted to the recent two star frontal safety rating the NHTSA had given the Coda Electric. As a matter of standard procedure, the government agency crash tests vehicles sold in the market and then assigns a rating. The Coda scored five stars on side impact and roll over testing but did quite poorly in the frontal impact testing.
The company also did not release any sales figures since it put the car into production last March. The layoffs were first reported after reporting that the company has sold less than a hundred units of its 2012 Coda Sedan Electric Car.
The design of the Coda Sedan Electric was inspired by a decade old Mitsubishi vehicle and is built as a compact four door sedan. It is a rolling ‘glider’ vehicle and is built by a Chinese company. The gliders are then brought to the United States where the other major components such as the lithium ion battery array, the electric motor, and other electronics are assembled in its Benicia, California facility. This set up makes the vehicle a U.S. assembled car. This though, has not helped in providing the public with a competitive vehicle against similar ones in its class.
Last September, Green Car Reports tested the flagship vehicle of Coda and said that the vehicle “performed adequately and seemed to deliver a viable 100-mile range in real world use.” They also highlighted many detail issues that caused irritation with drivers. This in turn would turn off many retail buyers when compared to the known brands such as Nissan’s Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt.
In response, Coda claims competitive advantages such as real world range of nearly 100 miles, a 6.6 kilowatt onboard charger, and its sedan styling. These though, according to many industry experts, may not be unique for so long in an ever changing market.