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Start-up electric vehicle maker bites the dust

California-based EV company CODA files for bankruptcy protection in U.S.

Published: May 1, 2013, 3:00 PM

CODA Electric Vehicle

California-based electric vehicle (EV) company CODA Holdings Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

CODA was founded in 2009, at the height of a frenzy to bring EVs to market. It was backed by a cadre of highly-successful business people from outside the auto industry as well as equity investment firms.

The company contracted with the Chinese firm Lishen to develop and produce batteries and another Chinese company, Hafei, to build the body and chassis for the CODA sedan, which would be final-assembled in California.

The basis for the car was Hafei's already-dated Saibao model, which was designed by Pininfarina.

After multiple delays, CODA brought GM's China chief, Phil Murtaugh, on board as CEO in 2011 to get the project moving. But it was too little too late.

To date, only about 100 CODA cars have been sold, in California, according to the industry publication, Automotive News. And 78 of them were recalled in 2012 for faulty sid-curtain airbags.

In addition, the limited reviews conducted on the vehicle have been highly critical of its levels of quality and sophistication, particularly given its high price-tag ($37,500 US).

All information on the CODA Automotive website appears to have been taken down, except for a statement announcing the bankruptcy filing.

It says, in part: "After concluding a comprehensive review of our strategic options, the Board of Directors, management team and senior lending group have concluded that focusing on the Company’s energy storage business presents the best opportunity moving forward.

"CODA diversified its business and formed CODA Energy two years ago. CODA Energy’s products are based on the same core technology, which includes its proprietary battery management and thermal management systems, found in CODA’s vehicles adapted for stationary energy storage applications."