Chinese-Built Electric Car Headed for US

Southern California automaker Coda Automotive announced plans to bring a new electric car to the US from China in 2010. The all-electric sedan is based on an existing gas-powered four-door car, known as the Hafei Saibao 3, built in Harbin, China. Re-engineered with a lithium ion battery, the Coda sedan promises a driving range of 100 miles.

The MSRP for the Coda sedan is $45,000, considered a steep price for a Chinese-built vehicle even with the expected $7,500 federal tax credit. That’s three times the cost of the gas-powered Hafei Saibao 3 on which the Coda sedan is based. If successfully launched, the sedan would become the first Chinese-built vehicle to be certified by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and sold in the US. Passing the certification process, and Coda’s direct sales plan—which could be challenged in court because of service requirements that go along with sales agreements in most states—are remaining obstacles.

The development of this vehicle is a joint venture between Coda Automotive—a spin-off from Miles Automotive—and Lishen, a Chinese batterymaker. It will be powered by a 37 kilowatt battery cell, which fully recharges in six hours when plugged into a 220-volt outlet, or about twice that time with a 110-volt outlet. Other components will come from Mitsubishi, and Pininfarina provides the styling.

Coda quotes a top speed over 80 miles per hour, and zero to 60 times in the mid-eight second range, making it capable for highway driving. Miles Automotive currently offers neighborhood electric vehicles.

The Coda Sedan will make its US arrival just months before the official launch of the Chevy Volt. Coda claims that it will be the first all-electric commuter vehicle to reach the United States market. “The Coda sedan is an all-electric vehicle for everyone. It’s a practical revolution for real drivers who need reliable transportation,” said Kevin Czinger, President and CEO, Coda Automotive, in a press release. Coda Automotive is planning to sell 2,700 units in 2010.

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  • moishe k

    Is it disposable ?

  • 9691

    Not “Pininarina”. It’s Pininfarina, the famous designers. Typo!

  • Charles


  • holzwo

    100 mile range and 6 hour charge time and out in 2010. Wow china could be a force. Score:Comunism 1 capitalism minus 2 (Chevy and Chrysler)

  • GOK

    Sounds great. I believe it when I see it. I predict delays because of safety and quality.

    Why only 2700 units? Does this allow them to get around safety testing.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Wow, what an exceptionally bland design!

    45k for something that’s a new product, new technology by a new company, looks like a Hyundai Accent with a fancy nose, and only goes 100 miles?

    No thanks and good luck.

  • Less NOx

    What am I missing here? In so. California I often see Toyota RAV4 EV’s being driven by So CAL Edison employees These were sold some 12 years ago, had a range over 100 miles without lithium ion batteries, and cost less than this crappy looking Chinese import.

    Now, more than a decade later, with all the computer and battery technology advancements, we get less range, in what looks to be a lower quality vehicle from third world country. And we get to pay more for it to boot.

  • Shines

    I think the styling is OK. If they put the batteries where the ice would normally be (I suspect not) then a front grille to cool them would look more “normal”. With electric vehicles we have to get used to grilleless vehicles. I remember when the first hyundais came out. Many folks thought they would replace Honda. Well for the 1st few years (5) Hyundais were junk. Coda is wise to not try an sell too many of these for starters. I agree with previous posts that there will be quality and reliability problems to start with. And $45000 for basically a commuter car?!? $30000 buys a lot of gas.
    Another consideratoin:
    How soon would the battery need replacing and what would that cost?
    Maybe after the car price falls near the $30k range…

  • FamilyGuy

    I’m wondering if someone smarter and more resourceful then myself has done the math yet.

    Sure, you can buy a lot of gas for $30k compared to the $45k asking price (before tax credit) for the EV.


    (and this is where I wish that I had the facts), the cost per mile of owning an EV is something like $0.03/mile? And more like $0.15/mile for a conventional gas?

    So a few columns of different scenarios would be intereting to read. If you drove the car for 50k, 100k, and 150k miles and gas cost $2.50/gal, $3.00/gal and say $4.00.

    One simply cannot read cost and say no. Hybrids are more expensive but the better mileage can offset the price in the long run. Up front higher cost can be offset by long term ownership with a lower maintenance cost.

    Just posing the question to someone with more facts then I’ve researched.

    Either way, I welcome the choice.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Shines, the grill is the best looking part of the whole car! I’m all for grilleless vehicles, lower drag, save some bugs, no ice to chisel out etc..

    Nifty LED directionals too.

  • KatieN

    Looks interesting but i don’t think it will catch on outside of metros. 100 miles isn’t very long so I don’t now how practical this would be for most Americans, price notwithstanding. adjustable beds When we learn more about the volt and can compare then side-by-side, i guess that will be the true test. My guess is that the volt will be cheaper though..


  • Anonymous

    If the car, including an engine costs about 15,000, then we are looking at a battery cost around $750 per kWh. When the next generation of battery comes out, say at $400 per kWh, this would be a nice option for some people. A cost of $30,000 before the $7500 tax rebate would make it affordable. Still, they need to boost the range by increasing the battery to 50 kWh, and cut the battery cost to $250 per kWh to have something a lot of people would consider.

  • Max Reid

    BYD a Chinese company is selling Plugin Hybrid with 60 mile range for $22K. Are they really selling that car in high volume.

    If anyone of you have a relative / friend in China, please post a comment about this.

  • Max Reid

    BYD’s F3DM Plugin hybrid is not selling well and has sold only 80 units since it went on sale in Dec-2008.

    They are blaming on lack of charging stations. Hmm, people should buy it still since the charging stations will come up soon.

  • edison

    No thanks, $37500 for a short range economy car is too much. Just replace your SUV with something more economical when you don’t need to drive it, like a used Civic.

  • Not Practical

    100 mile range with 6 hour charge at price of $33k after tax incentive… I don’t see how is it better than current hybrids out in other than the fact it runs purely electric. For most it’s just not practical unless money is not an issue.

    The Prius is successful because it is better than comparable vehicles in it’s size. This car would need to do the same or find a niche market to succeed.

    PS I hope Volt, if it survives, will not come up with something mediocre like this.

  • KMCoates

    Re: Less NOx. Those RAV4 EVs retailed for $42K, but I think the utilities that bought them got a better deal (or just had their ratepayers pay for them).

  • Danielk

    when I look at this one and the Tesla S. I’ll wait and pay for the 300 mile range options for the model S. This also looks like a basic 4 door the type S looks more like a BMW.

  • jonak

    lousy aerodynamics by the look of it.

  • Paul M.

    The design is blander than watered-down oatmeal. Gimme an American-Made and much more attractive-looking Tesla Model S for the same price range…. call me vain

  • Sherwood

    Less NOx – go rent “Who killed the electric car.” All of those cars were (literally) taken from consumers decades ago AND the copyright to the battery technology was sold to big oil companies. You can’t MAKE an electric car with the technology we had 12 years ago. We all started over and, until just recently, no car manufacturer saw any point to developing a new EV system.

  • Sherwood

    That’s just it – most american families have 2 cars: one to commute in and one that holds more passengers and INFLATABLE MATTRESSES is used on longer trips. Thing is, they currently are both large SUVs. One could be an EV.

  • 11 11

    How much longer before there are as many charge stations as there are gas stations in every town and city nation wide? 100 miles isn’t even a drive from San Diego to LA and back. 6hrs to charge is ridiculous… How long before you can charge up in 30 minutes and only have a 2 minute wait to do so. There can be a huge market in charge stations, just as gas stations. Run these greedy Oil tyrants out of our turf. Save the whales crying out loud… This all electric car indeed is revolutionary the first step in saving the planet.. how bout a $45K stimulous Obama… get us all a Coda Sedan.. I thought money grew on trees.. Tell the department of treasury to push out some of that paper for the people of the future to come before this sphere blows up.. The time is now for the Coda Sedan.. take the sacrifice for our breed of humans awaiting birth in the 3rd dimension… 2,700? 2million will do us well. Can’t wait for an even more conveniant electric car then this one perhaps one that can go 1,000K instead of 100K

  • Tom

    I would be afraid that the China built electric car would a bit expensive for most of us. I’ll keep my gas burner for a while longer.

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