What is it? The long-awaited Coda electric car is converted from a Chinese sedan and beefed up to meet American crash standards. Based on a Hafei Saibao 3, itself a version of the early-2000s Mitsubishi Lancer, it is slightly smaller than the Toyota Corolla, with a large, flat battery pack under the floor.
The biggest news is that the Coda has finally begun production after nearly two years of delays and an all-new management team at the company. It will reach California dealers by the end of 2011, with deliveries beginning in January 2012. Prices will start at $39,900, plus $895 destination. With federal and California tax incentives the net price reaches $29,900.
What is new or notable: The most notable feature of the Coda is its 36-kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery, which the company claims will give the car a range of 150 miles—50 percent more than a Nissan Leaf. Coda says the batteries can be fully recharged in under six hours. It will offer a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the batteries, or two years longer than the national legal minimum.
CR’s take: In our experience with the Nissan Leaf, a 50 percent improvement in range and a faster charger could make a huge difference in electric cars’ livability. We look forward to seeing how this car performs, especially given that it is based on a converted older platform.
When will it be available? January 2012 in California only. Other markets will follow later.