While the electric car market is still dominated by known brands such as Ford and Nissan, the prices for these vehicles and similar electric vehicles are pegged near the similar amounts. The power to define the market though is not limited to the Leaf and Focus Electric, as newer and cheaper electric models come to play in the electric car superhighway.
Here comes the Coda. While the average electric vehicle is able to travel a full range between seventy to eighty miles on a single full charge, depending on road conditions and driving habits, a vehicle that is able to travel to one hundred miles is a significant leap above the competition. The Coda is able to achieve it, with its newer models. The first model from the carmaker was already able to travel eighty-eight miles, a tad above the industry standard and the newer versions easily surpassed that milestone.
The Coda’s 134 horsepower motor provides ample power on the highway where it draws juice from an 870-pound battery pack. The battery array is built under the floor, enabling the vehicle to lower its center of gravity allowing for greater control on twists and turns. The lithium-iron-phosphate battery is recharged by its onboard 6.6-kilowatt charger at about twenty miles of range per hour from a 240-volt power source.
This is achieved by Coda through its frugal management of all the aspects of the vehicle. It outsourced the body and battery cells to China while other components were sourced in the United States. The car’s design is adopted from a gasoline-powered vehicle manufactured in Harbin, China for ChangAn Hafei Car Company. The knocked down parts are finally assembled in Benicia California.
The Chinese car design though was put through rigorous testing in order to comply with United States highway safety standards. Aside from this success, such compliance may open the door for Chinese made cars finding their way into the American car market in the long run.
Coda’s CEO, Philip Murtaugh has been at the helm of the company since 2011, coming from executive positions in the China market for Detroit giants General Motors and Chrysler. His initial concerns though were ventilated during the 2011 Los Angeles car show, where he said that the car’s styling may not be up to par with the American car market. He did say, “The vehicle was chosen three years ago. I came in nine months ago. We couldn’t change it.”
There are several amenities thought that are not found in the Coda that are standard in other electric car models. There’s no keyless entry, push button start, or Sport and Eco driving modes. Such sacrifices had to be made to fit a bigger battery array into the vehicle. Other amenities such as a techno start up sound or back up camera or mobile smart phone app or one touch window control is not in the Coda. It does not even have cruise control, for a vehicle with a price starting at U.S. $38,145.
Compared to the Focus Electric, which starts at U.S. $39,995 and the Leaf at U.S. $36,050, the Coda is very competitive, especially after applying the U.S. $7,500 tax credit and California rebate of U.S. $2,500.
All this was done in order to extend battery range capacity for the Coda. Its battery capacity of thirty one kilowatt hours is greater than the Leaf’s 24 Kwh or Focus Electric’s 23 Kwh. There are even plans for a 36 Kwh battery. The additional feature of the Coda is its active thermal management system that preserves range in hot or cold weather, using air to do the work in regulating temperature. There is also a program that conserves battery power when the reserves are low, allowing for slower movement to extend range efficiency.
There have been issues though, such as noise and vibration for the vehicle when driving. These include a high-pitched whine at full speed and a low deep spasmic groaning when the electric motor speeds up. The brake and accelerator pedals are built a tad too close to one another and are pushed far to the right. Legroom in the back seat is an issue, as it is sacrificed for more trunk space.
Despite the lack of frills, bells, and whistles, as well as acceptance of low ride quality, the 100-mile range capacity and dependability in consistent achievement of that range may find a market yet in the ever-expanding electric car market.