2011 Coda Sedan, final production versionEnlarge Photo
Well, that was fast: roughly one year after it first began delivering all-electric sedans to American consumers, electric-car startup Coda Automotive has filed for bankruptcy.
The bulk of the company's website has been disabled. On the front page, we find only a press release, which states that Coda Automotive has filed for Chapter 11 protection and that after restructuring, it will focus "on the growing energy storage market". As for Coda's remaining inventory of electric cars, the company "will seek to monetize value of its existing automotive business assets". Translation: a sell-off is a-coming.
In all honesty, none of us like to see companies in this position. It means that someone's big dream didn't pan out, and more importantly, it means that many folks who worked for that someone are now out of a job.
In Coda's case, though, there have been plenty of warning flags. Initial deliveries of the Coda Sedans were delayed for nearly two years. Customers in the U.S. didn't begin receiving them until the spring of 2012. Later that same year, Coda laid off 15% of its staff.
And then there were the vehicles themselves: bland, four-door boxes that would've looked outdated ten years ago. They performed terribly in safety tests. American consumers were wary of vehicles that had been largely built in China and finished here in the U.S. To call Coda's sales "slow" would be an act of uncommon generosity.
In the end, Coda failed to capture the imagination of the motoring public -- which is exactly what an electric-car startup must do if it wants consumers to switch from pumps to plugs. Just ask Elon Musk.
If there's an upside to this story, it's that Coda already has a division devoted to energy storage (i.e. batteries and the like). Coda Energy launched in 2011, and it's our hope that many of the automaker's remaining employees will be able to find work at its sister company.
[h/t Marty Padgett]