Explaining Southern California's economy

CODA Automotive makes the case for the Very Simple Electric Car

CODA-Ext-1

Nate Napierala

The CODA electric car looks...just like any other compact. And that's a selling point.

CODA-Ext-2

CODA

Wind power, meet electric car. You might want to be careful about straying too far from home with the CODA sedan, but range is good, at about 100 miles per charge.

CODA-Engine

CODA

Electric car engines are models of simplicity. You'll save money on maintenance.

CODA-Charing

CODA

Need a charge? There are stations through the Southland, plus smartphone apps to help you find them.

CODA-Int

CODA

This is the upscale interior trim package. Not a fancy car, but there's a place for that,

CODA-All-Electric

CODA

No gas required.

CODA-Center

CODA

Not your father dealership. In fact, it isn't even a store. It's an "Experience Center" in an upscale Beverly Hills mall.

CODA-Map

CODA

Think EVs are only good for short hops? CODA says you can do better than that. This map is at the company's Century City Experience Center.

CODA-LA River

CODA

A test drive took the CODA fleet to the historic L.A. River.

CODA-Battery

CODA

It's what makes the magic happen: CODA's battery pack.

CODA-Charger

CODA

If you have an EV, you need to get used to looking for these. CODA keeps them in the parking garage and keeps the cars juiced up for test drives.

CODA-Plugged in

CODA

It really is as simple as plugging the thing in.

CODA-Back

Nate Napierala

One car, one name, and very simple, startup view of the future of driving.


Let me draw a picture for you of the electric car market, circa autumn 2012. At the high end, you have Tesla Motors, selling or not selling, depending on your patience with the startup's delivery schedule, an all-electric Roadster, priced over $100,000; and an all-electric sedan, the Model 2, priced anywhere from about $50,000 to upwards of $100,000, depending on how you spec it out.

Then there's Nissan's Leaf, which can be be had for less than $30,000, once you get finished with various credits. The Ford Focus EV is in the same ballpark, around $30,000 once the tax credits kick in.

The Mitsubishi MiEV, even farther down the ladder, is yours for just over $20,000. But it's bare-bones.

You can lease, but not buy, the Honda Fit EV for around $400 per month. 

Pretty much everything else is some type of hybrid or plug-in hybrid, so you don't get pure, zero-emissions, all-electric motoring.

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Is Tesla Motors running out of money — again?

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Tesla's recently revealed Model X crossover electric vehicle. The company has just announced a new sale of shares to raise money — and avoid payment problems with a Department of Energy loan.

Tesla Motors, the startup electric carmaker whose CEO, Elon Musk, also runs private space-exploration firm SpaceX, is having another one of its periodic financial near-heart attacks. The latest news is that the company, which staged a $226-million IPO in 2010, wants to sell additional stock. A second offering of 6.9 million shares would bring in close to $150 million. [UPDATE: As a commenter notes, the offering was rather less than 40 million shares. Don't know where I got that... Also, this is Tesla's second secondary offering. So really, it's the third offering, including the IPO.]

Why? Yet another cash crunch for the company, which was pretty close to checking out in 2008, before Musk managed to find additional funding and do a deal with Daimler. The critical issue this time around involves the Department of Energy and it controversial loan program for greentech companies. Who can forget Solyndra? But electric cars are also a substantial part of the program, with both Tesla and Fisker Automotive — the two biggest names in alt.transportation — winning loans.

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