A new electric car for California

California drivers will soon have another option when it comes to fuel-efficient vehicles.

Come 2010, Coda Automotive will make available an affordable, full performance all-electric sedan to the mainstream California market. Additionally, the company, which has an existing long-term sourcing contract with China’s Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Company for lithium-ion batteries used in the Coda, announced the establishment of a global joint venture with Lishen to design, manufacture and sell transportation and utility power storage battery systems.

As a new automotive company, Coda Automotive’s focus is on branding, designing, and manufacturing fully safety compliant, all-electric cars capable of mainstream performance and highway use. The four-door, five-passenger, fully-equipped mid-size Coda sedan will be available for $45,000 (mid-$30,000s after including a $7,500 Federal tax credit and additional state incentives). Powered by a 333 volt lithium-ion battery with a real-world range of 90 to 120 miles depending on individual driving habits, the Coda sedan will travel far enough between charges to satisfy 94 percent of daily driving routines. The onboard charger will plug into any 110 or 220 volt standard outlet and complete a full charge in less than six hours on a 220 volt service. Charging the battery for a 40-mile commute will take about two hours.

“The Coda sedan is an all-electric vehicle for everyone,” said Kevin Czinger, Coda’s President and CEO. “It’s a practical revolution for real drivers who need reliable transportation.”

The battery system is the chief enabling technology for electric cars and Coda has established its strategic position in the development and commercialization of automotive grade battery systems through the joint venture with Lishen. Lishen is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium-ion cells and a key supplier to Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and Vodafone, among others. The joint venture’s manufacturing facility is located within Lishen’s existing manufacturing complex in Tianjin, China, thus accelerating the company’s ability to commercialize the battery system and bring an all-electric car to the mass market. However, plans have also been made to manufacture batteries in the US with an American company.

“The uncertainty of battery supply is an issue that plagues many electric vehicle manufacturers today,” explains Czinger. “This long-term agreement has enabled us to design an integrated battery system with an existing world-class partner with mass manufacturing capacity. That enables us to rapidly industrialize Coda’s power system for commercial volume production and to scale the business. Eventually, we expect to manufacture batteries in the US.”

Those US batteries will be produced by Coda Battery Systems, another new joint venture between Coda and Connecticut-based Yardney Technical Products.

Yardney has been providing batteries for the US military since 1944. They developed their first major lithium-ion battery in 1998 when the company won a contract to develop a battery for a planned NASA Mars lander. Since then, Yardney has also developed such batteries for other aerospace applications, including a variety of satellites, the US Air Force’s B-2 Bomber and Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and the Mars Exploration Rovers. Although manufacturing will shift to the US, the partners anticipate that Lishen will participate in this joint venture as well. The new Coda Battery facility will employ 600 workers in manufacturing positions.

Coda’s internal team, along with specialized US and European engineering partners, will oversee the manufacturing process to ensure that Coda vehicles are built to Western safety specifications and market expectations. This includes vehicle body design, safety engineering, the design and engineering of the battery pack, battery management system and power electronics, and additional engineering to integrate an electric vehicle drivetrain into the chassis. The Coda sedan has been engineered to be FMVSS compliant, and based on existing crash test results the company expects a four or five-Star NCAP crash rating.

With only a fraction of the moving parts of a gas-powered vehicle, the Coda sedan will be less susceptible to wear-and-tear and never require an oil change. The company estimates that it will cost less than $3, on average, to drive 100 miles. A comparable gas-powered sedan that gets 20 mpg costs about $17 per 100 miles. Driving a Coda should equate to over $2,000 in operation and maintenance savings per year at normal driving rates, $20,000 in savings over a ten year period.

The Coda sedan will be fully-equipped for comfort, convenience, and safety. Factory-standard equipment includes a telematics package, navigation with turn-by-turn directions, a “green screen” that monitors driving efficiency, roadside assistance with an emergency button, a Bluetooth system with an embedded microphone, AM/FM/XM radio with Sirius satellite capability, iPod dock, MP3/USB connectivity, security system, aluminum wheels, and power windows, doors and mirrors. Safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes with electronic stability control and advanced airbags with an occupant detection system. The vehicle will be backed by a three-year/36,000 mile warranty while the batteries will be warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Coda Automotive employs a direct distribution model, and will sell the vehicle only in the state of California initially. Coda will also perform the vehicle’s maintenance and service through an outsourced network comprised of brand name car service partners. Customers interested in purchasing a CODA can register their interest on the new CODA website at www.codaautomotive.com. The company will contact interested customers on a first come, first served basis later this year.

Read Electric Vehicle Technology Explained from Amazon.

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