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.