Electric-Car Startup Coda Gets More Cash Plus Hank Paulson As Advisor

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2011 Coda Sedan prototype - side

2011 Coda Sedan prototype - side

Now that Tesla isn't the only electric-car startup in town, the news keeps coming. Today's updates are from Coda Automotive, based in Santa Monica, California. We've written before about their 2011 Coda Sedan all-electric car, which will beat Tesla, Nissan, and others to market when it launches next year.

Today, Coda said it has raised $24 million in its second round of financing. Not only that, it has added President George W. Bush's former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. (Hank) Paulson, Jr. to its advisory board--a logical fit given his extensive business and political experience in China.

First, the cash. Formally, the company has closed its Series B investment round of $24 million. Both Series A round investors--Miles Rubin, founder and co-chairman of Coda, and Angeleno Group, a large venture firm focused on clean tech--returned for the B round.

That's always a good sign, as is new investors signing on. Here, the newbies comprise both firms and individuals, including Minnesota investment bank Piper Jaffray and Coda's co-chairman, Steven "Mac" Heller, plus its CEO, Kevin Czinger.

Coda Automotive CEO Kevin Czinger

Coda Automotive CEO Kevin Czinger

Other new investors; John Bryson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International and Coda board member; Thomas "Mack" McLarty, Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff; Farallon Capital Management founder and partner Thomas F. Steyer; and, of course, Hank Paulson.

Why more money? Well, even being something of a virtual carmaker demands buckets of cash. It will support development of the 2010 Coda Sedan, which will appear at California dealers next year, as well as funding Coda's battery manufacturing joint venture.

Second, the famous guy. What appealed to former Goldman Sachs banker Paulson so much that he not only joined the advisory board, but invested in Coda Automotive himself?

"Coda's non-capital intensive business model and globally collaborative partnership strategy persuaded me to join the advisory board," said Paulson. "Coda Automotive's approach will enable them to release the Coda electric sedan next year."

We rather like the symmetry that Coda has established; one public personage each from the Bush and Clinton presidencies. Electric cars are bipartisan, and all that.

2011 Coda Sedan prototype - charging socket

2011 Coda Sedan prototype - charging socket

Earlier, by the way, UQM Technologies of Colorado announced that it had partnered with Coda to supply UQM PowerPhase 100 electric propulsion systems to Coda Automotive for a period of ten years. To civilians, that means the electric motor.

Output of the UQM motor is 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) of peak power and 221 foot-pounds of torque, from a small package: 10 inches by 11 inches. It is powered by a 33.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which will take six hours to recharge fully on 220-Volt current, or 12 hours using 110-Volt power.

Finally, Coda is publicly saying what insiders have surmised for a while: Coda's internal engineers worked with many partners, including validation and vertification of parts, processes, and manufacturing from a far better-known brand: Porsche Engineering. Which should go some way toward addressing any lingering worries about the safety of Chinese-built cars.

The 2010 Coda Sedan will sell for $45,000 before a $7,500 Federal tax credit (and possibly an additional California credit as well). Its range will be 90 to 120 miles, which Coda says covers a full 94 percent of all daily car trips made in the United States.

2011 Coda Sedan prototype - rear

2011 Coda Sedan prototype - rear

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