I Coda Had a V8

CodaCarBehold the Coda Electric Car, described in PR materials as a practical revolution. Now, the Tesla has proven that a really freakin’ expensive electric car, with a butt-load of laptop batteries, can drain the bank acounts of the tree hugger elite faster than a trip to Whole Foods eats up a charge. But, while the electric car offsets its pollution to a stationary emission source – conceivably more controllable – what about other considerations caused by using a less efficient energy storage medium?
Typically, when a new hybrid or electric car is introduced, a comparison against a similarly spec’d gas or diesel car demonstrating that the “cost to fill” while lower with the electric, doesn’t begin to cover the higher acquisition cost and costs involved in using a vehicle for which there currently lacks a viable infrastructure. And that brings us to this latest entry in the electric car competition- the Coda.
Based on a car manufactured by HaFei Automobile Industry Group Co. Ltd in China, the initial offering is a Civic-sized 5-seater. Providing motivation is a UQM PowerPhase® 100 electric drive system, claimed to be hundreds of pounds lighter than a standard ICE, and capable of keeping the Coda out of its own way. That’s all well and good until you see the specifications for charge time and mileage capacity- always the deal killers for electric cars-

Energized by a 33.8 kWh lithium-ion battery built by the Coda joint venture, the Coda’s real-world driving range of 90 to 120 miles will satisfy 94% of typical daily driving routines. Its on-board charger conveniently plugs into standard 110 or 220 volt outlets, with a 220 volt charge delivering enough energy for a 40 mile drive in about two hours or a full charge in less than six hours. Of course, driving a Coda on electricity is much more affordable than driving a gasoline car. In fact, it’s estimated that on average, driving a Coda 100 miles will cost less than $3, compared to $17 in a gasoline sedan that averages 20 mpg.

Ninety to one hundred and twenty range seems sufficient for around town, but would require much greater trip planning as unexpected detours couldn’t be compensated by a quick fill-up at the local Gulp and Gas. And worse, a 2-hour charge is only good for 40 miles. That means that your 1-hour long, 40 mile trip will now take 3-hours, lowering your net speed to about 13-mph. While the difference in cost per fill-up is compelling, what is your time worth? I mean, sure, Ed Begley can sit at home twiddling his thumbs while waiting for his car to charge – when was the last time that guy worked? But most people have places to go, kids to pick up, jobs to arrive on time to, and their time is pretty precious. Also, do you have a 220 outlet in your garage or driveway that doesn’t already have an electric range or clothes dryer attached to it? How much would that cost to have installed?
The last item that always makes the less well to do environmentalists faces sour is the cost to acquire. In the case of the Coda, that cost is expected to start at $45,000. That’s right, forty five grand for a Chinese-built B-class with the Energizer Bunny banging away in the trunk. Considering that you can buy a Civic or Versa for around $15,000, and each of those get in the 30s on the highway, it seems like gas prices would have to be in the Chanel No. 5 range before you’d see any kind of equity with the overall cost of of ownership of the Coda.
Now, the company posits that buyers will be eligible for thousands in tax credits, and that, over five years the car will cost $10,000 less in maintenance over a gas-powered competitor. That may assume to include fuel cost, as I can’t imagine spending $2,000 a year on a Civic for regular service.
So, electric or no, what do you think? Does this Coda look like a viable contender to be your your daily driver, or is it just a status symbol for wealthy environmentalists? Do you think that a 90 – 120 mile range is enough for a car, or do you do more than that just to bring home the bacon (mmmm, bacon)?
Let us know!

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26 responses to “I Coda Had a V8”

  1. lilwillie Avatar

    Huh? What? Oh another electric car no one wants? Back to looking at midget porn.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Good being your own boss huh?

    2. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      As I am up on a lot of Chinese “engineering” I’d say pass. Now in theory and electric car sounds great until you realize what it actually takes to run one. I’d much rather run a diesel car, truck, or Jeep (please dear god please).

  2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I have zero confidence that this thing can hit a tree at 30 MPH without causing me serious permanent injury or death, possibly by electrocution.
    If it was Honda or Ford selling this, I still wouldn’t want it, but I’d at least keep an eye on it.

  3. bzr Avatar

    Personally, I liked Nissan’s idea of taking your electric car to a charging station and quickly swapping out the battery pack for a freshly charged one. They even demonstrated an automatic system where you don’t have to leave the car – perfect for us lazy schmucks! And the infrastructure wouldn’t be that involving: I suppose you would drive your electric car to a station when you realize it’s a bit empty, and drive home with a fresh pack.
    Of course, there’s, uh, paying more than, say, $3.75 and a pocket-lint-encrusted Twizzler for a Chinese car. I foresee nothing going wrong with that.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Absolutely. It’s the only solution that truly makes sense. And why NOT make them interchangeable? Put them under the trunk where gas tanks go. You back into a space, it drops a whole battery pack down, puts a new one in, you’re off and running in, what, 1 minute?
      Anything else is just silly.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        Agreed. Automakers would try to make their own proprietary systems, therefore shooting themselves in the foot, however.

      2. joshuman Avatar

        Maybe NHSTA or the IEEE can set a standard size and plug type. Who am I kidding.

  4. SirNotAppearing Avatar

    I asked on that other site why electric cars still had large grills/conventional styling, since the air intake wasn’t necessary (no internal combustion). Someone mentioned that those batteries still get really hot and need to be cooled, but it would appear here that a conventional grill is not necessary. Styling apparently wasn’t necessary, either.
    But to answer your questions: no, yes.

  5. iheartstiggie Avatar

    I’m always about body design first and really, I’m not impressed. At. All. Regarding the remainder of the article…I kinda disagree with electric cars for a lot of reasons, primarily the recycling of the dead battery and the fact that I could never drive one because I like to drive, not HAVE to drive.
    Here’s a question I’m too lazy to look up so maybe someone can answer for me. Does that mile range account for sitting in traffic? The start/stop every 15 – 30 seconds heading into DC, sure it’s only a 21 mile commute, but the average amount of start/stops has to be over 100 in rush hour traffic. What happens to that range if you’re having to constantly beat on the battery by accelerating over and over?
    And are there many sedans that only get 20mph anymore in this size of vehicle? I mean if you keep your foot out of them?

    1. Blueplate Avatar

      Er, you mean mpg?
      If you want more than 20 mph, you gotta put your foot *into* them a little more 😉

      1. iheartstiggie Avatar

        Obviously…dang and did you know that I happen to think the Autobahn is 27 feet thick?

        1. Blueplate Avatar

          Don’t worry, those are Metric feet, so they’re slightly smaller.

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I got twenty on my last tank – fairly aggressive mixed driving, some short trips, one muddin’ adventure. Did 25 and 23 before that.

  6. CptSevere Avatar

    You keep hearing that electric cars are going to save the world, but you’re right. If everybody had one, the whole grid would fry from the increased demand. Environmentalists don’t seem to realize as well that we’ll need more copper, lithium, and rare-earth metals to manufacture electric vehicles than it takes to manufacture what we drive now, and that means more mines and increased production at existing mines, which they absolutely hate.

  7. baldy_pm Avatar

    Thank you for suggesting that we make a gratuitous ‘Gong Li’ image search. My day is better for it.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar


      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        For those with locked down GIS.

        1. Tomsk Avatar

          Well ni hao there…

  8. discontinuuity Avatar

    I was about to say, “that sounds like a decent little economy car. Stop ragging on the range Mr. Graverobber.” But then I saw the price tag. Crack pipe doesn’t even begin to describe dropping $45k on this thing. I’ll stick to the bicycle for eco-friendly transport at 13 mph, thank you.

  9. superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz. Avatar
    superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz.

    An electric car should be small and lightweight with reasonably good aerodynamics. Someone build a Caterham 7 electric and I might be interested.

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      It’s been done, just not particularly well:

      1. superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz. Avatar
        superbadd75 haz not mastered teh interwebz.

        Okay, well then how about Electric Caterham 7 take 2? That one looks like a decent start though.

  10. Steven Ribeiro Avatar

    This car needs a heavy and big $ 33.8 kWh battery pack to go 90-120 miles. The Aptera 2e needs a 10 kWh battery pack to go 100-120 miles. Someone needs to go back to the drawing board…

  11. Social comments and analytics for this post…
    This post was mentioned on Twitter by TheHooniverse: I Coda Had a V8 – http://tinyurl.com/ygaa3gx

  12. Polprav Avatar

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post “No teme” in your blog with the link to you?