Big things have small beginnings. And the story of the all-electric car company CODA inaugurates chapter one from the molecular and cellular level. Its DNA code was not inherited by a requisite parent company or higher authority but manifested from a simple idea to break free from polluted environs. Its verve is generated from pure energy and not crude oils overseas. Its diction speaks vocabulary more akin to methodically applied science and technology than it does automotive syntax. This is the story of a micro electric enterprise galvanized with measured ambition to help the masses understand the importance of green energy and clean living.
So what is CODA? It’s a privately held company founded in 2009 at an abandoned airport hanger that designs, develops and sells electric vehicles and battery applications (in the field of transportation) from their 100,000 square foot headquarters in Santa Monica, California. CODA’s founder, Miles Rubin, began his quest for a carbon free society in 2004 by establishing Miles Electric Vehicles which builds low speed, non-highway people movers with no emissions. His vision has since grown into a full fledged 4-door, 5-passenger CODA sedan that operates off of a 31 kWh Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. If it were up to CODA and its 300 employees there would be an EV in every garage in America.
To help understand the interrelation between CODA and the automotive world, Automotive Rhythms headed to none other than Santa Monica to enjoy the beautiful beach community while spending time with the latest EV to hit the market. Admittedly, my expectations were pretty low since the vehicle’s launch date had previously been pushed back more than a few times, eliminating the expectation of logical consistency. Yet there they were — a cadre of intriguing CODA sedans in various colors and trims awaiting us to take them on an 88-mile spin. Officially, the UDDS (Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule) range of the vehicle is 133.6 miles per charge while the manufacturer rating is up to 125 miles. If we were to convert miles per gallon (MPG) to electric miles (MPGe) it would equate to 77 city/ 68 hwy / 73 combined. Voila! Keep in mind however that there is nothing palatial about the sedan. It is not to be compared with a Fisker Karma because it’s not the tech company’s intentions. It’s the electric vehicle for the everyday person living in California who may drive a Corolla or a Civic. CODA speaks to the CNET consumer as well as the automotive customer and has sold every CODA sedan built to date through four established dealers in California. They plan to expand to other regions of the country such as Illinois, New York and Ohio in the foreseeable future. Based off a Mitsubishi platform, the CODA sedan is simplistic in style and basic in usability.
Behind the wheel acceleration is decent and power is reasonable. Shockingly, I actually found myself passing gasoline-powered vehicles on Los Angeles highways with no problem. Its single speed transmission (no gear changes of course) offers 221 pound-feet of torque with an electronically limited top speed of 85 mph while zero to sixty mph is achieved in 9.5 seconds. I also found it agile as I won CODA’s reverse electric drag race featuring a chicane at the LA River Basin where Hollywood shot all those chase movies. The high strength steel enhanced sedan also features typical componentry of standard vehicles such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, a fully independent suspension, six airbags, and an Alpine seven-inch touchscreen navigation system with iPod/USB connectivity and Bluetooth. Yet, there are no steering wheel controls for operating those features. An electric rotary dial — similar to Jaguar’s — operates the four drive modes. Brake regeneration is produced when both coasting and applying the brake. The brakes are a bit grabby and require one to finesse the pedal for fluid stopping. The ride was smooth and efficient as I never felt electric range anxiety or the fear of running out of juice before returning home or hitting a charge station. The vehicle’s “Green Screen” driving-efficiency and energy-consumption monitor keeps the driver well aware of their charge status. Actually, my entire drive day in LA didn’t require a charge. And if so, the vehicle could have been plugged into a standard 110V or either a public charge station or a home installed 220V plug for the quickest and cheapest charging. The CODA energizes from zero to full charge in six hours from its in-house built 6.6kw/240V charger. Just as you plug in your cell phone nightly, you habitually plug in your car. It’s the wave of the future.
Questions to think about for EV owners are as diverse as the vehicle itself. What if I forget to charge up the night before? If I haphazardly run into a friend and they invite me across town can I make the journey? Can I divert from my typical day to add in a few errands? Well, like any transformation, you adapt. You become a part of that change and instinctively conform to the EV world. Your smart phone App will locate a charge station and keep you on course. Just as a vegan, like myself, knows what restaurants and juice bars serve the proper foods, a CODA owner will inherit the knowledge of EV 101. For example, there is a charge station at Westfield Century City where we visited the CODA Experience Center. Similar to an Apple Store, the retail location is enhanced with everything a potential customer needs to know about CODA from accessories to test drives to an understanding of the electric battery.
CODA’s energy business is structured around the manufacturing of electric batteries and stand alone energy stations. The Italian derivative of the word coda signifies the ending passage in musical piece, which CODA says represents the passing of oil dependency to electric dependency. Their bread and butter 31 kWh Lithium Iron Phosphate battery is more potent than a Lithium-Ion battery and lasts for 15 years. The 6”x4” and 700 pound unit is installed under the floorboard freeing up rear passenger and trunk space. Key understandings of the battery are its stability and durability: it is non-toxic, it has an auto crash disconnect feature, and can be charged at lower temperatures. For peace of mind, CODA offers a limited battery warranty of 10 years and 100,000 miles; a powertrain limited warranty of 5 years and 60,000 miles, and a new vehicle limited warranty of 3 years and 36,000 miles.
The CODA sedan retails for $37,250 excluding an $850 destination charge. Federal tax incentives extend up to $7,500 and California offers a $2,500 tax credit. The rollout is gradual as the company continues to learn its customer base and expectations from developments with EV infrastructure. If you are an early adopter and believe in a carbon free world then this vehicle is absolutely for you.