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2012 Coda Sedan Electric Car: Track Test Reveals Anomalies

 
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2012 Coda Sedan

2012 Coda Sedan

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The new car market is a harsh environment even for the best-funded and most-respected of carmakers.

For a brand like Coda, whose electric sedan is not only a niche product by its very nature but also one with a very low market profile, it can be tougher still.

Regardless, they say it's the product that matters--and following Inside Line's customary track testing, it looks like Coda is in even deeper water.

We drove the 2012 Coda Sedan earlier this year. It proved bland to behold and full of quality niggles, but we were more impressed by its decent performance and real-world range of around 95 miles.

Inside Lines' track tests proved less favorable.

9.7 seconds to 60 mph isn't too bad, but the reviewer felt like it could have been quicker--the motor feeling held back, possibly to preserve range. Braking was worse though, with poor stopping distances and a soft pedal, something we noted in our own review. The brakes quickly overheated too, during heavy stopping.

Reviewers noted plenty of understeer and an intrusive stability control system, crude in its operation when correcting slides.

It could be argued that few will ever experience some of these characteristics. In normal driving, the Coda may prove perfectly acceptable--and as we've found out, it has a useful range, too.

The counter argument is that regardless of how hard the individual driver pushes a car, high-speed testing is always relevant from a safety perspective--it's nice to know a car is capable when taken to its limits.

And in that respect, the Coda looks to be below par--perhaps a symptom of its humble Chinese origins.

How much should any of this matter? It depends on your outlook. At $38,145 pre-incentives, the Coda is quite an expensive vehicle, and while this is true of many electric vehicles, people still like to know their money is being spent wisely. A Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt feels as much a quality product as any other Nissan or Chevrolet. More so, in some cases.

Coda has done a good job getting its vehicle to market--but has Coda done a good job of actually making a car?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Comments (6)
  1. There are always 5% people who don't buy mainstream product no matter what. If some of those buy Coda, and that allows Coda to be profitable and survive, they would have a chance to catch-up product quality.

    Also, I'd recommend Coda to implement some unique, still not-that-to-make feature to get their market-share on electric car market. Here are few ideas:
    - small motorcycle engine powered 10-15kw on-board generator to extend range
    - 4WD with small low-speed only motors (in-wheel?)
    - powerful build-in 110v inverter to use the car as silent electricity generator (for home, emergency contractors, outdoor activities)
    - SUV/minivan/pickup variants
    - incentives like "free electricity for 5 years"
    - special features for hot or cold climate
     
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  2. Automotive is a tougher business than most people recognize. It takes a lot of knowledge in many different areas. It not only includes the product engineering, but manufacturing, supplier selection and development, sales & service, marketing and finance. To newcomers like Coda who don't really have that key knowledge in their core top management, there is just way too much knowledge they don't know, that they don't know. When I saw my first Coda, I thought it was a joke of a product @$40k; typical Chinese lack of quality. I think Tesla and Fisker fall into this category too. Both Tesla & Fisker seem to be doing well, but I think their products are costing them double what they are selling them for. That is not sustainable!
     
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  3. What I worry is the "crash safety rating" of the car.
     
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  4. I think it has some potential, but Coda has to realize that American buyers will always require a level of luxury and comfort that most other won't. It could be a great little car if they made it to be great, rather than OK
     
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  5. The Coda is a Mitsubishi design but the Chinese don't produce many quality products. The car that the Coda is based on is the Saibao, which was a low-level, low-selling car in China.

    How many cars has Coda sold? It started selling in March 2012. Does anyone see it on the road?
     
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  6. I drove the Coda at the AutoX event at California Speedway as well.

    Yes, tons of understeer, but the car was controllable. Needs more tire for those kinds of conditions.

    I was impressed considering it's weight, and the fact it's a 4 passenger economy car.
     
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