The CODA dealership in Santa Clara offers a new, local option for green drivers who want to hurdle the intermediary step hybrids offer without waiting for Tesla to get its act together.
I put the hammer down at the CODA representative’s cue. The car responds quickly, doling out a near-excessive amount of speed. It’s a neighborhood, so I ease off the pedal. The regenerative brakes kick in and start to slow the car a bit. I don’t really care how fast we’re going—I’m focused on the chassis and the ride—but as we continue the drive, I find myself drawn back to the accelerator: I’m startled how fast 134 electrically-charged horses can push.
CODA is an oddball brand with a product that’s an assemblage of many different parts and pieces. The 134-horsepower electric motor is made by UQM in Colorado, while Chinese-based Tianjin Lishen Battery Co. (OEM to Apple, Motorola and Samsung) produce the batteries. The body stampings are similarly made in China at Hafei’s factories. Borg-Warner’s transmission comes from Michigan. Porsche assisted CODA with design of the car’s steering system. Continental is responsible for the brakes. Final assembly happens in the East Bay, in Benicia.
What brought me into the electric car’s cockpit, cruising down Stevens Creek Boulevard, is the new CODA dealership—the only one of its kind in Northern California. Shaun Del Grande, president of Del Grande Dealer Group (DGDG) in Santa Clara, decided a year ago he wanted to include sales of an electric vehicle brand in his family’s ever-growing fleet of auto dealerships. The Del Grandes have been running dealerships in the South Bay for four decades, starting with Shaun’s father, Kevan.
Targeting the usual suspects—Tesla Motors, Fisker—it wasn’t until Shaun Del Grande stumbled upon Santa Monica-headquartered CODA Automotive that he had his answer. With CODA’s opening on March 16, DGDG now sells 11 car makes in the Bay Area.
“We have been selling Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts for some time now, noticing the huge demand,” Del Grande says. “So, we made it a priority to research what else is out there in terms of 100 percent electric vehicles and CODA was our answer.”
Yet another player in the California electric vehicle (EV) game, Coda is the only one not currently sitting on the sidelines. Its most notable EV competitor, San Bruno-based Tesla Motors, isn’t sending any cars out of its Fremont factory doors. The company remains busy ramping up production of its highly-anticipated Model S sedan after shelving its six-figure sticker price Roadsters.
Tesla slated Model S deliveries to start earlier this year, but the release date for sedans slipped to “mid-2012” after many customers ponied up $5,000 for a preorder. Meanwhile, CODAs—priced at $38K for a standard model, about $20K less than the Model S—are being assembled on the factory floor and winning the sales race simply by having a product available to drive now.