Thursday, September 08, 2011

"classic vanilla"

When electric car maker Coda Automotive Inc. introduces its first model this year, the independent Southern California manufacturer will pioneer a new EV profile: the unassuming four-door five-seater.

If cars came in flavors, Coda's debut would be classic vanilla. Understated by design, it's a car for do-gooders who don't need to flaunt their green credentials. Think Honda Civic, only all electric and homegrown.

Today, Coda is opening its first-ever storefront on L.A.'s Westside in the Westfield Century City mall. Located next to a Swatch shop and Godiva chocolatier, this nontraditional automotive sales outlet is geared toward getting curious passersby into its new car for a test drive.

The company let me preview a preproduction version of its sedan for a few hours in late August. I drove it from downtown to West L.A. in city traffic and back along Interstate 10.

Priced at $44,900 — $34,900 after applying federal and state incentives — the Coda is most notable for its range and quick charging. It can travel as far as 150 miles per charge and can recharge in about six hours with a 220-volt charger; that's twice as fast as the Nissan Leaf, Coda said.

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