Unlike a Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius hybrid, the four-door Coda, which is assembled in California, is completely electric. Gary Teate, Coda Automotive’s representative in the Atlanta area, said it is also different from the Nissan Leaf because of its larger 31 kilowatt hour lithium ion phosphate battery system, which allows it to drive 125 miles without recharging. The Leaf’s battery is 24 kWh, allowing it to go up to 100 miles on a charge.
Another difference is the handful of vehicles that Coda currently produces.
“We’re not in competition with the Nissan Leaf,” he said. “We’re in competition with ourselves to produce more vehicles.”
Teate gave about 30 students in Chattahoochee Tech’s engine performance and alternative fuels class a demonstration of the Coda on Thursday. He showed them one of the car’s 324 aluminum-coated battery cells, which he said looks a bit like a liquor flask.
The car is manufactured at Coda’s plant in Benecia in northern California using about 35 percent American parts with the rest coming from Europe and Asia, including batteries from China, Teate said.
“All vehicles that are made today are what they call ‘global vehicles,’ ” he said. “It’s more American than any Ford vehicle.”
The 10 alternative fuels students got to have the Coda in their lab as part of a series of demonstrations of new car technologies. Instructor Kevin Ruby said they previously saw a propane vehicle and heard from a company that converts cars to run off compressed natural gas.
The class has a Prius permanently located in its lab that the students can work on.
Ruby said he was impressed with the Coda.
“This is a cutting-edge vehicle, one of the few in the southeast” he said. “Cars like this are pretty common in California, but around here, it’s quite an honor to see one. It’s rarer than a Ferrari or Lamborghini.”
Students in the class learn about how to work on electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles. One of the selling points of cars like the Coda, which has no internal combustion engine, is how little time it spends in the repair shop.
Teate said the car has an expected life of 10 years, or 100,000 miles. And even then it can continue to work for years, after a few battery cells, which cost around $200 apiece, are replaced.
But student Kevin Olivia of Douglasville, 23, said it is still worthwhile to learn the technology.
“Sometime, something is going to break down on this, so you’ve still got to learn” he said. “It’s not like a building that’s going to stand for 100 years. These things are always moving, so something is going to break down.”
The Coda retails for $37,250, but is eligible for $7,500 in federal and $5,000 in state incentives, Teate said. But he added that the company has received no government funding.
“We’re not part of the ‘green giveaway’ program,” he said.
However, no Coda dealerships exist in Georgia, making it nearly impossible for area residents to obtain one.
That’s why Teate is hoping a dealership in the state will consider adding the Coda to its inventory. He said the cars could also be useful for a company looking to purchase a fleet of vehicles and save money on fuel costs.