Coda Automotive has one year to nail its stated goal of producing an electric sedan for the masses. If it stumbles, it could get trampled by an onslaught of more popular brands entering the electric market.
Coda wants to sell a $45,000 electric sedan, manufactured in China, for the mass market. By the end of 2010, the company hopes to manufacture cars at a run rate of 20,000 autos annually.
Today, it’s a novel idea, as its chief point of comparison is the Tesla Roadster. If the Coda is rolling across U.S. roads en masse after 2011, the novelty could be done.
There will be a plethora of competitors by 2012. Mitsubishi is already pumping out small electric en masse. Toyota will probably have a plug-in hybrid Prius available . Nissan will have its electric effort on the road, possibly for cheaper than Coda. If God lines up all the stars, Tesla’s Model S might be available. Fisker might also have an affordable EV on the road by 2012, though that too is a real long shot. Oh, and there’s the government backed Chevy Volt.
Each of those cars are aimed at the affordable, middle price, market.
Without the novelty of an affordable electric car as a peg for sales, Coda is naked. It’s an alien brand to all but the most dedicated followers of electrics. It’s manufactured in China, which will hurt its reputation. There will not be a network of dealers for people to check out the car in person. It’s a shoe string operation, and it shows.
Regardless of when it hits the road, Coda will have to market itself incredibly well. As we’ve said, it’s going to have trouble beating back Chinese manufacturing fears.
Here’s another big problem that commenters brought up upon seeing the Coda for the first time: $45,000 isn’t all that affordable. However, with a tax break of $7,500 the price drops to $37,500. Coda claims the car will deliver $10,000 in cost savings from gas and repairs. An electric has fewer parts, thus fewer things to fix. That lowers the price, at least in theory, to $27,500.
It’s slightly irksome and slightly dishonest when Tesla bakes in the tax credit and tells everyone their $57,400 car will only cost $49,900, but it works. Most people think that $49,900 is the sticker price for the Model S. If Coda told everyone the car will cost $27,500* and have the asterisk explain their price, then they’ve got a jaw dropping price for an electric car.
A jaw droppingly cheap four door electric car available for the masses sounds like a winner to us. It’s up to Coda to sell it.
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