Coda Unveils Electric Car Pricing at $45K, Above Volt & LEAF

Electric vehicle maker startup Coda has finally released the pricing of its inaugural vehicle and it’ll cost you almost $4,000 more than GM’s Volt, and over $12,000 more than the Nissan’s all-electric LEAF. Yowsa. The 5-passenger all-electric Coda Sedan, which goes on sale in December, has a sticker price of $44,900 before any subsidies, but $37,400 with the federal incentive, and as low as $32,400 with both state and federal subsidies in certain markets like California.

Coda CEO Kevin Czinger told us in an interview last month (see test drive below), that he thinks the first EV buyers won’t be all that price sensitive (within a range), and that consumers will be interested in the longer, more reliable battery range of the Coda compared to the LEAF. Czinger says Coda’s electric car offers up to 40 percent more driving range than the LEAF under most conditions.

Czinger said during our interview that the Coda sedan range is “the minimum real usable range that you’d want in an initial all-electric car if you’re going to meet consumer needs. If you don’t have an active thermal management system to provide that range dependably, I think you’re going to have consumers that are unhappy.” Tesla Motors (s TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has expressed a similar sentiment about the LEAF. We’ll see if over the next 6 months Nissan LEAF owners start to express dissatisfaction over the LEAF range.

The fact that Coda, a three-year-old venture backed startup, is even competing with deep-pocketed Nissan is remarkable. Nissan’s LEAF and the Coda Sedan are the first mainstream-targeted mid-range-priced all-electric cars on the market, and Coda’s is the first from a startup. Tesla plans to sell its Model S sedan not until the end of 2012, and likely closer to 2013 for most buyers. Czinger says Coda plans to sell 14,000 sedans (7,000 to consumers and 7,000 to fleets) by the end of 2011, largely in California.

Nissan has said it has an output capacity of 10,000 units of the LEAF for the business year ending in March 2011, but there’ve been reports that only 3,300 Nissan LEAFs will be delivered in the U.S. by March 2011.

In order for Coda to get the cost of the battery cells down to a place where they can sell the car even for $45,000, Coda is betting on China. Coda has created a joint venture with China battery maker Lishen, called Lio (oil spelled backward), Coda and Lishen agreed to invest $100 million in their venture, and the group has also received a commitment for a $327 million line of credit from the Bank of Tianjin Joint-Stock Co. Czinger says that Lio owns the intellectual property for the battery cell production, but that Coda has retained all rights to the advanced thermal dynamics and battery management system.

Winning a Department of Energy loan that Coda applied for is also a crucial step to help Coda build a factory in Ohio, said Czinger in the press call on Tuesday. Czinger told us last month that the company had passed a crucial phase in its DOE loan application, and the company seems confident that it will win the loan. At the same time, Czinger told me last month that Coda is also in the process of raising another $125 million round of financing, with participation by Morgan Stanley.


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