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CODA Delays Rollout of Electric Car: Why We’re Not Surprised

 
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2011 Coda Sedan, final production version

2011 Coda Sedan, final production version

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Building any car is tough. Building an electric car is tougher.

Automakers must devote time, skill, technology and financial investment to designing, engineering, and cutting costs for what is still far from a mainstream drivetrain.

Even Nissan, whose Leaf won GreenCarReports’ Best Car To Buy 2011, has pushed back delivery dates for the Leaf. 

But a small Californian firm yesterday pushed its own compact all-electric car launch back from next month to sometime in the third quarter of 2011. And we think that puts them in a tough and scary position.

2011 Coda Sedan electric car, New York City, September 2010

2011 Coda Sedan electric car, New York City, September 2010

Enlarge Photo

The announcment from Coda Automotive that its 2011 Coda Sedan won't hit the streets until late 2011 comes a week after both the firm's senior vice president of sales & marketing and the CEO resigned.

CODA has said little about the reasons behind this, except that it wishes to make sure the quality of its car is as high as possible.

We can’t say whether that may indicate problems with components, issues with the performance of prototypes, or just the management shuffle. But broken promises are certainly not good for reputation.

What’s the upshot? We won’t be seeing CODA sedans on the road any time soon, at least not in private hands. That’s a shame. 

But we have to be honest: Over the past few months, we’ve become increasingly skeptical that CODA could deliver on its promise to bring the 2011 Sedan to market by the start of the holiday season. Why? Let us count the reasons. 

(1) Very few anecdotal order stories

The 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt both have stuffed order books. We regularly hear from, and about, buyers on the waiting list for one or other. But we have yet to hear from a single reader, advocate, or potential customer of CODA. 

Yes, we know Enterprise Rental have ordered some, as have other fleet managers. But ouside of this, where are the hordes of eager retail buyers waiting for their car?

Anecdotal tales of pre-launch excitement, orders and test drives are often a great way of gauging the success of a car. So we're a little perturbed. Just how many retail orders are there? Why don't we hear anyone who has put up the $499 deposit for a CODA Sedan?

If that's you, let us know. We’d love to set the record straight. 

(2) Management turnover

No, it's not uncommon for a company to change executives when switching from development to product launch. But two such senior executives leaving within days of one another surely indicates that something is not well. 

What’s more, the resignations came just days before the 2010 Los Angele Auto Show, an important event for any automaker and particularly so for Coda, which is hosting a cocktail party and offering interviews with executives.

2011 Coda Sedan, final production version

2011 Coda Sedan, final production version

Enlarge Photo

(3) Many press releases, no test drives

CODA has put out regular press releases, providing details to the media of when it planned to launch the 2011 CODA Sedan. We even have an impressive list of fleet purchases the company has booked. 

But to date, CODA has not offered the media test drives--whereas the 2011 Nissan Leaf has now been widely reviewed and driven by most of the major national and international automotive media.

That’s surprising for any company that's about to launch an automobile, and it led us to suspect a while back that the December launch target would be impossible to meet.




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Comments (10)
  1. Next fall!! I agree a delay like this is scary. And this article does touch on the same issues I see in Coda. No known waiting list, no dealership network, and the car really doesn't seem to offer anything to cause interest. The Tesla Model S shortly after it was announced had 1,000 orders and continued growing. And although Tesla has yet to set the specs in stone, the Model S was presented with many new innovations all packaged up in a beautiful design. And then there is the price issue, Tesla seems to know their pricing puts them in the luxury segment, so they've aimed the Model S at cars like the BMW 5-series, in terms of driving performance and features ect, so their price does fit the type of person it would interest. But Coda was looking to be priced for the masses like a Honda Civic, and it could have competed against the Civic but the price puts it between the BMW 3 and 5-series (using BMW as an example). So I'm sorry to say this but there are quite a few nails in Coda's coffin, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they live or die.
     
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  2. It's all about timing. Had the Coda been launched in 2008 at a reasonable price as intended it could have cleaned up: oil was sky high and no rivals in sight. Even now they could have got some customers who would have bought a Nissan Leaf but don't want to wait for more than a year for Nissan to deliver. But further delays make it a typical case of too little too late. I doubt they will bother launching it at all. This car is not going to happen.
     
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  3. that is disappointing that our only 2 evs this go around have both been delayed.
    hopefully, the leaf is only delayed a month or 2, and not the 9 months that the coda is being delayed.
    it will be interesting to see how ford, nissan's other 3 models, and a whole host of other companies are doing with their first releases.
    i was not too concerned about the price of the coda, because all vehicles are priced at a premium. what will be interesting is what will the prices come down to, once the supply has caught up with the demand.
    if the coda ends up a year behind schedule, they will lose that opportunity of selling their cars at a premium price, for the most part.
     
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  4. i think it will take 2 full years before supply can begin to level with demand. so basically 2011 and 2012.
    but it is hard to tell yet just how many vehicles are actually gonna be for sale in 2011. if we keep getting delays, our first 2 years may really be 2012 and 2013.
    arent most of the other vehicles slated for 2012 ?
    dont forget, coda as a company has a lot of their business wrapped up in the battery supply part of the ev industry.
    they are gonna need to revamp their prices, just like most other evs will.
    i think the coda will end up being a better car than the leaf. but as i stated in the past, that means i think coda needs to match nissan's price, being that they are a no-name company.
    i do wonder if nissan's delay has to do with their battery situation ? have they realized that they need better thermal mgmt of the batteries ?
    looks like it may be a whole year before we can get a better idea of the progress the ev industry is making.
     
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  5. i guess my fingers got itchy. there should not have been a g in my name on the third post.
     
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  6. i am somewhat surprised, but i am finding coda ads on half of the web sites that i typically visit.
    i guess they are concentrating there, because the internet is supposed to play a large role in their sales process.
    hopefully they get back on track.
     
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  7. My guess is that they are toast and know it. They're in the same market as the Leaf which comes it at $11K less. Coda can only claim they have better thermal management of the battery. The only hope for them is that the Leaf's battery management system fails this summer. Then they can swoop in during the 3rd quarter while Nissan regroups. However, that probably won't happen to the degree that Coda hopes and will never hear from them again after 2011.
     
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  8. Too much emphasis on LEAF battery not having strong active temperature control. The LEAF battery is lower energy density than the Volt battery, but is tougher.
    I agree the Coda is toast. If they had been able to pull it off 2 years ago it would have been great, but now is too late.
     
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  9. i think you guys are placing too much on the coda delay. that in itself, is not gonna kill the car. they do not need to meet nissan to the punch. they do need to be able to effectively compete against their competition, nissan and others.
    the delay is gonna cost them 9 months of being able to get higher prices for their vehicles. as a no-name company, they need to match prices, and then sell their better quality. i think if they do this, they will sell their car. but right now, there is a 12,000 or so price difference, which is huge.
    there is always a possibility of any of these smaller companies being bought by one of the giants. i hope this is not necessary with coda, because right now coda is not beholding to any gasoline pressures, etc. if the bigwigs get hold of it, more than likely the whole company will change, such that i doubt i will be interested in them any more.
     
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  10. The article says "Why don't we hear anyone who has put up the $499 deposit for a CODA Sedan? If that's you, let us know. We’d love to set the record straight."
    That's me! I know I'm reading this article a little belatedly, and honestly, it's giving me pause. However, it's a refundable deposit and with gas prices topping $4.00, I'm glad I'm on an EV waiting list. Sure, I haven't seen it or test driven it, but I'll get the chance this summer. And I can tell you so far, the company has been great as far as being able to talk to a human about all my questions. We will shortly be assigned a "valet" to handle all our needs. I certainly hope to be able to tell you all you were wrong.
     
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