The Failed Electric Coda Sedan Was One Ugly Car

Startup electric automaker Coda, which filed for bankruptcy today, managed to sell only about 100 units of its only model.

That’s not surprising: On top of insufficient funding and production delays, Coda made a really ugly car.

That’s unusual for electric vehicles created by startups. Tesla Motors based its first car, the Roadster, on the beautiful Lotus Elise, and designed a striking sedan, the Model S, as a follow-up.

Fisker Automotive was founded by Henrik Fisker, who was known for designing amazing cars like the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8 — he created two gorgeous models for his own company, the Karma and Atlantic.

Recently launched Detroit Electric promises to build the SP:01, another beauty, also based on the Lotus Elise.

Coda took a different approach: Instead of building a car from scratch, it reengineered an existing model, the Chinese Hafei Saibao, to run on electricity. The chassis of the Hafei Saibao is based on the late 1990s version of the Mitsubishi Lancer, a fine but totally unremarkable car.

The result, as Jim Motavalli at Plugincars writes, was “a witheringly expensive battery car that looked like a 1988 Toyota Corolla.”

For all their faults, Tesla (slow growth), Fisker (near total collapse), and Detroit Electric (young and unproven) all made or make cars that are exciting-looking, as a new, potentially planet-saving technology should be.

They gave people a reason to buy their products despite shortcomings.

Coda had bigger problems than the look of its car. But a sedan based on a decade old car that was uninspired to begin with, is a poor way to start an auto revolution.

As a refresher, here’s the electric competition.

The Tesla Roadster:

tesla roadster

The Telsa Model S:

tesla model s red

The Fisker Karma:

2012 fisker Karma


The Fisker Atlantic:

fisker Atlantic Design Prototype

The Detroit Electric SP:01:

detroit electric

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