Tale of Two of Carmakers

Electric Car Companies
Electric Car Companies

Honda, after its losses from the recent earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand, is clearly on the rebound. On the other hand, Coda Automotive is on teetering on the edge of financial problems that is affecting its manpower complement.

In a recent statement, Honda has opened its Marysville, Ohio plant to begin assembly of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid within 2013. The Accord Hybrid is the redesigned 2013 accord but utilizes the more complex plug-in hybrid propulsion system. The vehicle would go on sale by the fall, according to Honda spokesperson Ron Lietzke.

The Marysville plant is currently manufacturing the Accord Coupe and Sedan, together with the Acura TL. There are 4,400 employees in the plant and an additional fifty employees as well as an increase of US$23 million in investments.

There are two other hybrid models currently being built in the United States, namely the Civic Hybrid and the Acura ILX Hybrid, both in the Greensburg, IN. The first Accords were built in the Marysville plant back in 1982 amidst skepticism from consumer experts as to the capacity of American workers ability to meet the high quality demands of the vehicle. This was clearly addressed after a number of reliability studies have shown that it was the assembly methodologies that created the quality vehicle and not the nationality of the workers. Overall, there are four plants for Honda in the state of Ohio employing 13,500 individuals and comprising nearly U.S. $800 million in total investments in the country. In these plants engines and transmissions are built, as well as the research and design center where engineers can design new models.

This is a far cry from the landscape that Coda Automotive is currently in. Last December 26, 2012, the company announced through its Facebook page that its Coda Experience Center, located at the Westfield Mall in Century City, would be closed down. This was soon followed by layoffs last January 4, 2013, after laying off fifteen percent of its total staff last December alone.

In a statement, Coda said, “(Coda) furloughed a number of employees as the Company takes necessary action to bolster its financing and better position the business going forward.” It added, “The Company has kept in place a sufficient number of staff to keep the Company operational and remains committed to the continued development and distribution of its products.”

The company reassured that it will continue to provide services to its dealers and customers and termed that this is “a temporary action to allow the company to strategically direct resources towards critical operations and put the Company on a more sustainable path.”

Passion for Plug Ins Expanding in California

USAmap
USAmap

Californians have now a clear passion for plug-ins, with 2012 as the watermark year for electric cars in the state. Just four years ago, the U.S. $100,000 plus Tesla Roadsters was the only electric vehicle able to reach highway speeds. The past few years has seen an ever-increasing wave of plug in vehicles being introduced, not only in California’s showrooms, but all over the United States as well.

This summer alone, nearly a dozen plug in vehicles and crossovers would start to travel the U.S. roadways. About five to six models would be arriving right before the end of August, from electric car manufacturers such as Tesla and Coda Automotive and industry giants such as Toyota and Ford.

California has been long known as a trendsetter, with many factors being used to make this a testing center for what is considered as the golden age of personal transportation. The state has been known as hotbeds of technology and entertainment, with many first adopters having ready cash to spend on the new technology. Currently, an expanded charging infrastructure is being developed together with access to battery-powered cars to coveted carpool lanes on congested freeways.

Amongst the most awaited electric models of the summer would be the Tesla Model S luxury sedan, with its base price of U.S. $58,570 increasing to U.S. $78,570 depending on the size of the battery pack. The upgrade would have a consequent increase in the driving range on a charge. During its development stage, Tesla received more than 10,000 reservations without even the benefit of a test drive. The Model S was initially promised to be delivered in 2009, it was finally unveiled and the first delivery was made last June 22.

According to Paul Scott, co-founder of Plug In America, an advocacy group for electric car, “The people who buy this car are the movers and shakers – leaders in arts, entertainment, business.” Scott is now selling all electric Leafs at a Nissan dealership in Los Angeles, downtown area.

He added, “I sold a Leaf to Danny DeVito. He’s that kind of guy. But you’ve got a lot of people who just will not put themselves into a small car.” He further said that celebrities who live large are the ones who would drive the market if they adopt upscale electrics such as the Tesla, to later influence regular individual purchases.

After introduction of the Model S last weekend, the Tesla Motor Corp is providing thousands of test drives to those who placed reservations, with events to he held in Fremont and Los Angeles, before moving to other cities in North America. Other drivers are also getting behind the wheel of the Coda electric sedan. The U.S. $38,145 vehicle would be tested in events to be held in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area. The car would be made available in four dealerships in California.

The major difference in the plug in vehicle market is the presence of the world’s largest carmakers, with their very own offerings in this car design and platform. Ford initially offered its U.S. $40,000 Focus Electric to its dealers last May and is expecting to sell about 350 cars in California, New Jersey and New York by June’s end. Another carmaker, Honda, is now providing leasing for its Fit EV priced at U.S. $389 per month in California and Oregon. The Japanese carmaker would then be expanding its reach to six East Coast areas in 2013.

The First All Electric Coda Rolls Out

New Electric Car
New Electric Car

After its announcement last September of the introduction of its first all electric vehicle, Coda Automotive has recently rolled out its first car for the U.S. market from its manufacturing facility at the Amports factory in Benicia.

The first vehicle rolled out in the presence of numerous dignitaries. The first vehicles would be delivered to its Silicon Valley dealership and the first owner would be bringing home the unit by Friday at the latest.

The all-electric Coda is a five passenger vehicle with four doors and has been delayed several times, but now it is available only in California. The vehicle runs on a 31 kWh lithium ion iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery array with a range of eighty eight miles or 142 kilometers. The fuel economy of the Coda has been pegged at 105 miles per gallon.

The car was designed by Pinifarina and uses a Saibao chassis from Mitsubishi. The battery system utilizes an active thermal management system providing greater range than other vehicles in its class. It has a 6.6 kW on board charger that is able to recharge the battery faster than the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, about six hours when plugged to a 220 volt charging station. The vehicle has an anti-locking brake system, electronic stability control and traction control system, six air bag system, pre-tensioner equipped seat belts, and child restraint system.

According to Coda’s Senior Vice President, Mr. Thomas Hausch, seven hundred cars have been ordered even without any advertising on the part of the carmaker. The unveiling is one of the very few events conducted by the company.

Coda of Silicon Valley is but one of the five dealerships that have been planned in the Bay Area. One of the latecomers to the party is Hausch Benicia, who also wants to become a dealership. As to the approval of the Benicia dealership, Hausch was non-committal but says it is a possibility.

He added, “We’ve identified five market areas in the Bay Area and one of them is definitely in the Benicia area but a final decision hasn’t been made yet.”

According to Mac Heller, Executive Chairman of Coda Holdings, “This car is zero emissions. I can’t talk about tailpipe emissions because this car doesn’t have a tailpipe.”

One of the dignitaries present during the roll out for the first Coda all-electric car was Ron Myska, a member of the Benicia Economic Development Board. The board distributes petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. He said that they were not worried as to how electric cars would affect their business. He said, “We come in with a little different perspective. It’s a different kind of sale. We can sell propylene glycols-environmentally friendly coolants – and gear oil for the electric cars.”