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Coda: First Chinese Electric Car to Hit U.S. Market

The Coda will be available in California first.

The Coda sedan will be the first Chinese-made electric car to be sold in the United States. So far, the automotive press thinks the Coda is nowhere near as eccentric as models like the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i, but like that its range is significantly higher than these electric cars.

“If cars came in flavors, Coda's debut would be classic vanilla,” says the Los Angeles Times. “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.”

Many test drivers think the Coda has a boring exterior.

A few journalists have tested the pre-production Coda, and despite the sedan’s boring exterior, they aren’t disappointed with its range and performance. The Coda can travel up to 150 miles per charge, has a top speed of 85 mph and has a 36-kilowatt battery, according to Coda Automotive

When Edmunds tested the Coda, its team drove 105 miles in two cars, using about 90 percent of the battery. “That left about 11 miles until the battery state-of-charge gauge would have bottomed out,” Edmunds writes. But “Phil Gow, Coda’s top battery guy, told us that when the needle hits ‘0’ the battery pack still will deliver almost 20 miles of travel.”

One reason why the Coda can go much further than the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i or Ford Focus Electric is because it has a larger battery: 36 kWh, compared with the Leaf’s 24 kWh, for example. The Leaf and Focus Electric have a top range of about 100 miles.

Test drivers are satisfied with the Coda’s range, and find the interior is practical and easy to use, but boring. It seats five people, and has enough leg space to fit four adults comfortably. There’s a respectable 14.1 cubic feet of trunk space, which is good for a car that houses a large battery, and the option to increase that space to 24 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

With a starting price of $44,900, the Coda will be eligible for the federal government’s $7,500 tax rebate, but even with the discount, it will be too expensive for many shoppers. But those who are interested will have to wait, as the electric car will go on sale in California first. To become popular, the press thinks the Coda has a lot to overcome. Americans who can afford the Coda will probably want something flashier, and will have to be comfortable buying a car from an independent Chinese automaker.

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