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LA show: Coda EV sedan just the beginning

Sparked up: Californian-based start-up Coda Holdings has begun production on its self-titled EV sedan which is sourced from China.

Coda kicks off in US with Chinese-built EV and sets sail with Great Wall worldwide

Coda logo18 Nov 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

CALIFORNIAN-BASED electric vehicle start-up Coda Holdings used this week’s Los Angeles auto show to announce production had started for its all-electric mid-sized Coda sedan, one of the first Chinese-built vehicles to be sold in the US.

Built by the Harbin HF Automobile Industry Group, or Hafei as it is better known, the Coda sedan is based on the Pininfarina-designed Saibao III and features a Chinese-sourced 333-volt 33.8kWh lithium-ion phosphate battery produced under a global joint-venture – known as LIO Energy Systems – which Coda Holdings has entered with Lishen Power Battery.

The Coda sedan’s launch has been rescheduled several times, with the company launching the EV at the 2010 LA show, but has fronted this year’s event with a 2012 model year version and a starting price of $US39,900, less federal tax credits of up to $7500 and a Californian vehicle rebate of $2500.

Coda Holdings is led by former GM China chairman Phil Murtaugh, who also served as international operations chief for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and was Asia operations CEO for Chrysler.

The company claims the electric sedan offers an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile battery warranty and the “best value per dollar range” based on its ability to travel up to 150 miles (241km) before requiring a recharge.

175 center imageIt also claims fast and easy recharging of the 728-cell battery pack, which is located under the floor between the front and rear axle to achieve “optimal performance through balanced weight distribution and a low centre of gravity”.

Other features of the propulsion system include a 100kW/300Nm electric motor – which the company says can take the 1670kg five-seater sedan to 85mph (137km/h) “with ease” – plus a regenerative braking system and an ‘air-cooled active thermal management system’.

A 6.6kW onboard charger enables a claimed 100-mile (161km) range in four hours on a 240-volt supply, or 50 miles (80km) in two hours. A full charge requires six hours.

“We dedicated this year to increasing efficiencies in order to bring down costs and, as we go to market, we are committed to passing these savings to our customers,” Mr Murtaugh said.

“These progressions align with our mission of putting an electric vehicle into every garage and adding further confidence that Coda will provide dependable electric vehicles for generations to come.”

Although the Coda sedan looks to be a California-only proposition for the time being, the company has global aspirations and in August forged a deal with China’s Great Wall Motors to develop electric vehicles based on Great Wall models, for distribution worldwide.

This collaboration has the potential to produce one of Australia’s first Chinese-sourced electric vehicles, likely based on a Great Wall passenger car model such as the forthcoming VX10 that hits the market here with a conventional engine early next year.

While Great Wall and Chery importer Ateco Automotive have previously committed to releasing a Chinese EV in Australia, there is no indication of the brand in question and the initial timeframe of 2011 set down by Ateco Group governing director Neville Crichton last year has almost passed.

Ateco said in August that the Chinese EV was still on the agenda, but no vehicle or launch date was identified.

Meanwhile, Mr Murtaugh said of the deal with Great Wall: “With an extensive line of vehicles, and the leading Chinese manufacturer selling in volume in the European Union as well as more than 120 countries globally, our collaboration will enable us to provide our respective customers with a broad selection of high-performing and affordable electric vehicles globally.”

Great Wall Motors chairman Wei Jianjun also said he was confident that “our combined strengths will ensure us to together become a significant player in the electric vehicle segment worldwide”.

Standard features on the Hafei-sourced Coda sedan include a ‘GreenScreen’ system that monitors driving efficiency and energy consumption, a 2.0kW air-conditioning system, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-inch colour touch-screen with satellite-navigation, perimeter alarm, power windows and door locks, and 17-inch alloy wheels with 205/45 tyres.

Safety equipment includes ESC, ABS, a tyre pressure monitoring system and six airbags (dual-stage front, seat-mounted side and roof-mounted curtain) with a front passenger occupant detection system. The front seats also have belt pretensioners and load limiters.

The basic underpinnings include MacPherson struts front and rear and a rack-and-pinion electric power steering system. The vehicle sits on a 2600mm wheelbase and measures 4480mm long, 1706mm wide and 1473mm high.

Coda says it controls all elements of design, manufacturing and engineering work internally. While the sedan is assembled in Harbin, China, final assembly takes place in California.

The vehicle warranty is three years or 36,000 miles (58,000km).

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