Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Czinger’

Sorry Fast Company: The “New,” All-Electric, CODA Automotive Sedan, Direct From China, is NOT a “Luxury Car”

Friday, September 9th, 2011

[UPDATE: Wired (Magazine, website?) weighs in here with words like “econobox” and “Honda Civic” and “practical EV.”]

Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company (Magazine, website, something or other) offers this today:

“Luxury electric car maker @CODAautomotive showcases its EV in a shiny mall store: http://bit.ly/ot8Elq “

But the problem with that is that what CODA makes ain’t luxury cars.

Leaving aside the issue of which companies actually make the parts what make up the electric vehicles that CODA says they will soon be selling (and people have been saying that this car would go on sale at the end of 2008, 2009, 2010, and now apparently, 2011), the CODA Sedan is in no way, shape, or form a luxury car.

Basically, the CODA Sedan is a gussied-up Mitsubishi Carisma from 15 years ago. The concept at the time was to have a big trunk at the expense of having less room in the back seat. It didn’t work out. Tooling was sent to China and a second-tier “regional” carmaker offered it for something like $9000 with a gasoline engine.

Now, for some reason, taking out the most expensive part, the engine (along with the fuel tank and whatnot) and putting in a battery and a tiny electric motor jacks up the price to $45K.

For some reason.

Of course, you could start with your sister’s Honda Civic from the 1990′s and, you know, Pimp My Ride or something, but the result wouldn’t be what you could call a luxury car, I don’t think. In some ways, the CODA would be better, but in some ways the Honda would be better, IMO.

Oh, let’s travel down memory lane. (Do all these links still work?)

“The NYT’s Jim Motavalli has some news about California’s very own electric car company today:

Coda Automotive is a start-up company that will deliver its first $44,900 electric cars to customers in its home state of California “in three to four months,” said its president and chief executive, Kevin Czinger.”

What that means is that, once again, an electric car company is letting you down, ’cause deliveries were just recently promised for the “fourth quarter of 2010.” (Seems as if promises from any kind of car company aren’t really worth that much these days.)

Now, back in the day, in 2007, the electric car we were going to get from China was called the Javlon XS500. It was suppose to come in 2008. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles Automotive on the $30,000 Javlon XS500 all-electric sedan

Then, in 2008, we were promised the Miles XS500. That was going to come in 2009. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles XS500 will be a lot more expensive than planned, maybe

Then, in 2009, we were promised the Coda Automotive Sedan. That was going to come in 2010. It didn’t. Check it:

Coda Automotive Unveils New Mainstream All-Electric Sedan

So, based upon the statement written on the NYT website, I guess it’ll be 2011 before the “final assembly” plant in Benicia, CA starts rolling out product. [Oh, this didn't end up happening, IRL]

(Perhaps it’s easier to badmouth Nissan than fulfill promises? Sure looks that way…)

In other news, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Distribution, Michael A. Jackson has left the building. Mmmmm….

And hey, remember Webvan, that slow-motion car crash of a dotcom company, you know, the one that made a big splash and then soon after went belly up, the one that was brought to you by, among others, Kevin Czinger and Goldman Sachs?

Well, KC and GS are back again with Coda Automotive.” 

And hey, just for fun, compare this last from last year to Solyndra‘s investors and board of directors / advisors. Mmmmm…

Keep chasing those rainbows, CODA!

CODA’s investors include:

  • Aeris CAPITAL – a private Swiss investment office
  • Harbinger Capital Partners – private hedge fund based in New York City, New York.
  • Riverstone Holdings – a private equity firm based in New York City, New York.
  • Piper Jaffray – a U.S. middle-market investment banking firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Angeleno Group – a Los Angeles based private equity firm
  • EDB Investments (EDBI) – an investment firm headquartered in Singapore
  • Countyline LLC – an investment entity owned by Tony Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker
  • Miles L. Rubin – Founder and Chairman Emeritus of CODA Automotive; former CEO of Detroit Iron & Steel Industries, Reliance Manufacturing, Puritan Fashions Corp. and Polo Ralph Lauren Jeanswear
  • Steven “Mac” Heller – Executive Chairman of CODA Automotive; former Goldman Sachs Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Worldwide and Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division
  • Tom Steyer – Managing Director of Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco private equity firm; Founder, Co-Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Farallon Capital; member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University
  • Les Wexner – Chairman and CEO of Limited Brands
  • Henry “Hank” Paulson – former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and special representative of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Mack McLarty – (Thomas “Mack” McLarty) Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, President of McLarty Associates and McLarty Companies, a transportation business based in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Kevin Czinger – Senior Strategic Advisor, CODA Automotive; Former President and CEO at CODA Automotive, executive at Global Signal, Webvan Group, Bertelsmann AG, and Goldman Sachs

Board of Directors

  • Miles L. Rubin – Founder and Chairman Emeritus, CODA Automotive; former CEO of Detroit Iron & Steel Industries, Reliance Manufacturing, Puritan Fashions Corp. and Polo Ralph Lauren Jeanswear
  • Steven “Mac” Heller – Executive Chairman, CODA Automotive; former Goldman Sachs Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Worldwide and Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division
  • Alan Chesick – Acting Legal Advisor of CODA Automotive, former general counsel of Fortress Investment Group
  • Daniel Weiss – Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Angeleno Group LLC, a leading Los Angeles-based private equity firm focused on high growth investments in the energy sector
  • John Bryson – Former Chairman, CEO and President of Edison International from 1990 through 2008, a director at The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company, and the California Institute of Technology
  • Niall Davis – One of ten founding partners of Swiss aeris CAPITAL AG, a large global private equity firm
  • Philip Murtaugh – CEO, CODA Automotive; former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GM China, EVP International Operations of SAIC
  • James P. McGinnis – Managing Director, Harbinger Capital Partners
  • Lord John Browne – Managing Director and Managing Partner of Riverstone Holdings LLC, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Chair of the Tate, Member of the House of Lords}}

Board of Advisors

  • Mack McLarty – (Thomas “Mack” McLarty) Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, President of McLarty Associates and McLarty Companies, a transportation business based in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Dr. Thomas Cardello – Partner of Sunrise Capital, an institutional fund manager, Advisory Director and former MD of Global Electronic Derivative Market making for Morgan Stanley
  • Dr. Michael Wang – Manager of the Systems Assessment Section of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne Labs, serves as a senior advisor to the Chinese government on new vehicle technology and alternative energy production
  • Henry “Hank” Paulson – former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and special representative of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Thomas F. Steyer – Managing Director of Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco private equity firm; Founder, Co-Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Farallon Capital; member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University
  • Woo C. Lee – Head of Asia for the advisory firm JL Thornton & Company, formerly a U.S. diplomat at American embassies in China, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia
  • Thomas R. McDaniel – Director of SunPower Corp., SemGroup, LP, Cypress Envirosystems, and the Senior Care Action Network and Formerly executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Edison International
  • Kevin Czinger – Senior Strategic Advisor, CODA Automotive; Former President and CEO at CODA Automotive, executive at Global Signal, Webvan Group, Bertelsmann AG, and Goldman Sachs”

All Electric Cars Suck (Except the Nissan Leaf): #2 – Talking With Coda Automotive About “Range Anxiety”

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Let’s imagine a convo with Aaron Cohen, Director of Marketing Strategy over at the latest iteration of Coda Automotive, that company what promised to build an electric car assembly plant in the Bay Area City of Benicia last year.

Aaron Cohen: “You have “range anxiety” about driving an electric car and then running out of juice someplace. You so crazy! I’m diagnosing your mental dysfunction free of charge, you’re welcome.”

Wedding Guest: Uh, isn’t range a problem with your product. Isn’t that a real-life concern? Isn’t $45k a tad expensive for what’s basically an electrified 1990′s-era econocar?

Aaron Cohen: “I see. I guess I’ve been misleading everybody. It’s sort of my job though. I’m proselytizing EV’s, you know?”

Wedding Guest: Well the problem is that the Sedan model that your employer may eventually offer for sale in CA sucks big-time. And it costs waaaaay too much money for what it is.

Aaron Cohen: “You’re forgetting about the tax incentives, like…”

Wedding Guest: I’ll stop you right there. Didn’t the Chinese market reject this car six years ago back when it was a retreaded Mitsubishi four-cylinder gas-engine vehicle selling for something like $9000-something? And didn’t the Euros reject this car back in the 1990′s when it was known as a Mitsubishi Carisma? And doesn’t the huge trunk come at the expense of rear seat passenger room? Now, I know that experts have come in to help you all electrify the thing, but why didn’t you start with a modern vehicle?

Aaron Cohen: “Gee, I’m kind of new here and Wikipedia doesn’t mention any of this stuff .”

Wedding Guest: Well, there you go. Wiki tends to forget about things that determined people are determined to make Wiki forget about. Oh well. Now, whatever you do, don’t badmouth the Nissan Leaf the way soooooo many other people from Coda have done before you. You’re trying to market one of the worst vehicles available (or soon-to-be-available, see below) in the American marketplace, just so you know.

Aaron Cohen: “Gee, now that I know all that, I come off kind of patronizing, huh?”

Wedding Guest: A little, sport. Just a little. Your electrified ride was supposed to come out in 2008, back in the day. Now it’s over budget and behind schedule. Coda Automotive doesn’t know what it’s doing and its dithering is taking up too much time and money from the govmint – why don’t you address one or both of those issues post-haste, Coda? All right, Aaron, Go Forth and Sin No More.

Wow, that was a piece of cake. Too bad real life isn’t that easy…

Now, let’s close with the sperpective of some wag from last year. (I’ll tell you, I can’t begin to tell you all the problems that Coda Automotive has. Oh well.)

“The NYT’s Jim Motavalli has some news about California’s very own electric car company today:

Coda Automotive is a start-up company that will deliver its first $44,900 electric cars to customers in its home state of California “in three to four months,” said its president and chief executive, Kevin Czinger.”

What that means is that, once again, an electric car company is letting you down, ’cause deliveries were just recently promised for the “fourth quarter of 2010.” (Seems as if promises from any kind of car company aren’t really worth that much these days.)

Now, back in the day, just three years ago, the electric car we were going to get from China was called the Javlon XS500. It was suppose to come in 2008. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles Automotive on the $30,000 Javlon XS500 all-electric sedan

Then, in 2008, we were promised the Miles XS500. That was going to come in 2009. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles XS500 will be a lot more expensive than planned, maybe

Then, in 2009, we were promised the Coda Automotive Sedan. That was going to come in 2010. It hasn’t so far. Check it:

Coda Automotive Unveils New Mainstream All-Electric Sedan

So, based upon the statement written on the NYT website, I guess it’ll be 2011 before the “final assembly” plant in Benicia, CA starts rolling out product.

(Perhaps it’s easier to badmouth Nissan than fulfill promises? Sure looks that way…)

In other news, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Distribution, Michael A. Jackson has left the building. Mmmmm….

And hey, remember Webvan, that slow-motion car crash of a dotcom company, you know, the one that made a big splash and then soon after went belly up, the one that was brought to you by, among others, Kevin Czinger and Goldman Sachs?

Well, KC and GS are back again with Coda Automotive.

Let’s see how they do this go-around…”

Coda Automotive DeathWatch, Day 143: It’s Official, There’ll be No Electric Car Factory Running in the East Bay This Year

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Remember back in the day, way back when our MSM was fawning over Coda Automotive, talking about when Benicia was going to get its very own electric car factory or final assembly plant or whatever?

Well that didn’t quite work, so that one’s down the Mem’ry Hole, never ever to be discussed never ever again.

So the new idea is for CODA to build its Chinese electric car, wait for it, in China!

Can you imagine how inefficient that will be, you know, taking the Made in China battery and putting it in the engineless, Made-in China “glider”* actually in China? But who knows, that idea is just crazy enough to work!

But wait a second, isn’t the Coda Sedan basically a primitively-electrified version of the failed 1990′s-era and never-really-updated Euro-market Mitsubishi Carisma? And wasn’t this very same design rejected by the Chinese market when it sold for $9000-something as a gas-powered car in the mid-2000′s?

Isn’t the Coda Sedan just a big $45,000 electric POS?

Bingo!

But somehow, these cars

…will be sold at an “unbelievable value,” Chief Executive Officer Philip Murtaugh said at a briefing in Beijing today.”

Uh, no.

And try this one on for size: “We won’t be perfect but we will certainly be class-leading.”

Uh, yes on the not perfect part, but no on the class-leading part.

(What’s that? I forgot about Tesla?

Nope!)

(What’s that I forgot about Xap! or what have you?

Nope!)

Hey, is Coda Too Big To Fail already? Take a look below and then You Make The Call.

TTFN.

CODA’s investors include:

  • Aeris CAPITAL – a private Swiss investment office
  • Harbinger Capital Partners – private hedge fund based in New York City, New York.
  • Riverstone Holdings – a private equity firm based in New York City, New York.
  • Piper Jaffray – a U.S. middle-market investment banking firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Angeleno Group – a Los Angeles based private equity firm
  • EDB Investments (EDBI) – an investment firm headquartered in Singapore
  • Countyline LLC – an investment entity owned by Tony Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker
  • Miles L. Rubin – Founder and Chairman Emeritus of CODA Automotive; former CEO of Detroit Iron & Steel Industries, Reliance Manufacturing, Puritan Fashions Corp. and Polo Ralph Lauren Jeanswear
  • Steven “Mac” Heller – Executive Chairman of CODA Automotive; former Goldman Sachs Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Worldwide and Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division
  • Tom Steyer – Managing Director of Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco private equity firm; Founder, Co-Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Farallon Capital; member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University
  • Les Wexner – Chairman and CEO of Limited Brands
  • Henry “Hank” Paulson – former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and special representative of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Mack McLarty – (Thomas “Mack” McLarty) Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, President of McLarty Associates and McLarty Companies, a transportation business based in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Kevin Czinger – Senior Strategic Advisor, CODA Automotive; Former President and CEO at CODA Automotive, executive at Global Signal, Webvan Group, Bertelsmann AG, and Goldman Sachs

Board of Directors

  • Miles L. Rubin – Founder and Chairman Emeritus, CODA Automotive; former CEO of Detroit Iron & Steel Industries, Reliance Manufacturing, Puritan Fashions Corp. and Polo Ralph Lauren Jeanswear
  • Steven “Mac” Heller – Executive Chairman, CODA Automotive; former Goldman Sachs Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Worldwide and Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division
  • Alan Chesick – Acting Legal Advisor of CODA Automotive, former general counsel of Fortress Investment Group
  • Daniel Weiss – Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Angeleno Group LLC, a leading Los Angeles-based private equity firm focused on high growth investments in the energy sector
  • John Bryson – Former Chairman, CEO and President of Edison International from 1990 through 2008, a director at The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company, and the California Institute of Technology
  • Niall Davis – One of ten founding partners of Swiss aeris CAPITAL AG, a large global private equity firm
  • Philip Murtaugh – CEO, CODA Automotive; former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GM China, EVP International Operations of SAIC
  • James P. McGinnis – Managing Director, Harbinger Capital Partners
  • Lord John Browne – Managing Director and Managing Partner of Riverstone Holdings LLC, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Chair of the Tate, Member of the House of Lords}}

Board of Advisors

  • Mack McLarty – (Thomas “Mack” McLarty) Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, President of McLarty Associates and McLarty Companies, a transportation business based in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Dr. Thomas Cardello – Partner of Sunrise Capital, an institutional fund manager, Advisory Director and former MD of Global Electronic Derivative Market making for Morgan Stanley
  • Dr. Michael Wang – Manager of the Systems Assessment Section of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne Labs, serves as a senior advisor to the Chinese government on new vehicle technology and alternative energy production
  • Henry “Hank” Paulson – former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and special representative of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Thomas F. Steyer – Managing Director of Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco private equity firm; Founder, Co-Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Farallon Capital; member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University
  • Woo C. Lee – Head of Asia for the advisory firm JL Thornton & Company, formerly a U.S. diplomat at American embassies in China, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia
  • Thomas R. McDaniel – Director of SunPower Corp., SemGroup, LP, Cypress Envirosystems, and the Senior Care Action Network and Formerly executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Edison International
  • Kevin Czinger – Senior Strategic Advisor, CODA Automotive; Former President and CEO at CODA Automotive, executive at Global Signal, Webvan Group, Bertelsmann AG, and Goldman Sachs

*Basically, everything but the powertrain and battery

Coda Automotive DeathWatch, Day 33: CEO Fired, or Did He Quit? And Whither That “Final Assembly Plant” in Benicia?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I’ll tell you, the only reason why I started up the Coda Automotive DeathWatch®* is because the final assembly plant for these electric car was / is going to be in the bay area. Check it:

Coda Automotive, based in Southern California, may soon start assembling in Benicia a plug-in sedan that the company plans to start selling this year. Coda is negotiating with Amports, which runs an auto-processing plant there, to do the work.”

Now, I’ll nitpick by noting that that place in Benicia will be / was supposed to be merely a “final assembly plant,” where the made-in-China “glider” (basically the whole entire car save for the battery and motor and associated electrical bits) would receive its made-someplace-else-in-China battery. You can’t really call it an automotive “assembly plant,” IMO.

Anyway, here’s the news, the CEO is gonepoof! Check it:

“Just three days after Michael Jackson, Coda Automotive‘s senior vice president of global sales, marketing and distribution , resigned to start his own company, the company’s CEO, Kevin Czinger, is also stepping down from his position. While we could only speculate as to the reason for his departure from the Coda limelight, top executive’s don’t typically bow out at a critical time in a company’s development because things are going swimmingly. Indeed, if we were to guess whether or not some vehicles would reach customers by the end of the year as had been planned, we would say, not. Last we heard the company hadn’t yet closed a deal with Amports for final assembly in Benicia, CA.”

So, last month’s problem for CODA was the issue with getting taxpayer money to pay for a battery factory in Ohio (seeing as how part (all? most?) of the factory would be Chinese-owned), and this month’s problems are the loss of the famous CEO, the face of the company and the fact that, once again, there’s another another delay to the start of production (like another six months? Who knows…)

The CODA’s are coming, the CODA’s are coming! (Maybe.)

(Did you know that the average Chinese college senior has no fracking idea what this above image is all about? So, take off the inflammatory Coda car images and hand this photo of Tank Man to students at the highest-level universities in China, and then they’ll just stare it mouths agape having no idea what it is. Isn’t that sad?)

Anyway, instead of an old white guy who doesn’t know Jack about the car industry but with a law degree from Harvard and an extensive background at Goldman Sachs running things at CODA, we now have:

a different old white guy who doesn’t know Jack about the car industry but with a law degree from Harvard and an extensive background at Goldman Sachs running things at CODA.

How’s that for diversity, girlfriends?

But don’t get these twins mixed up or anything, turns out that they’re totally different! Or at least that’s party line, Comrade:

The skills that are called for to get the company to that point are frequently different from the skills that are necessary to move the company forward after that point.”

(All this fussing and feuding is redolent of Tesla Motors, non?)

I forget why we’re subsidizing these POS companies, actually.

In other news:

-Turns out that the GM Volt is not an electric car. It’s not, it’s a plug-in hybrid. You can’t mention El Volto in the same sentence as the Nissan Leaf. Please make a note of this.

-The Nissan Leaf is a coming to town starting Saturday, November 20th, 2010. It’s a real electric car but it’s not made by Coda Automotive so that’s why Coda says it sucks and it’s not made by Tesla Motors, so that’s why people from Tesla say it sucks. But you can test drive Leafs / Leaves soon, so why not? And you can do it at Moscone Center as late as 9:30 PM so bring a date on Saturday.

-Every CEO from every electric car company feels it’s his/her obligation, not just a right, but an obligation to lie to you. If they didn’t lie to you, then they’d get replaced one way or another. Please make a note of this as well.

Anyway, I don’t care, put down 500 clams on a Coda, I won’t cry. Maybe you’ll get it next year, maybe not.

Choose wisely.

*Just kidding about the ® thing. It’s fun to type though – just try holding down Alt key and typing 0174. ®®®®®®®®®®®®®®®®®®!!!

Coda Automotive DeathWatch, Day 5: Informed Vs. Uninformed Journalistic Coverage – A Case Study

Monday, October 18th, 2010

First up is San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer David R. Baker with:

Coda steers toward Benicia to build electric car

It’s perfectly fine.

This sedan was supposed to arrive in 2008, 2009, 2010, and now 2011. Oh well:

But check out this one from last week from Keith Schneider”

Talk of Tianjin Climate Conference: China and U.S. Are Electrifying The Car

Uh oh. Here’s an error sampler, covering just three sentences.

“The Coda’s drive train* and electric engine* are American* designs built* in factories* in the U.S. The car’s safety systems were engineered by American and European experts and will be built by American** companies. And a Chinese auto manufacturer will receive all*** of the various parts and assemble them under contract into new cars for shipment to the U.S.”

Oh well…

And Mr Czinger? Your baggage has arrived, where should we put it? Oh, inside the door marked “Denial?” Will do.

“You have to get pretty deep into the story before the real truth comes out: this thing is mostly made in China, the “trading partner” that gave us toxic drywall, deadly dog food, and tainted toothpaste. The Chinese also produced poisoned baby formula and schools that collapsed during an earthquake, killing thousands. Would you really want a Chinese car?”
 
Uh oh.
  
Oh well…
 
*[Sic] Reveals writer’s ignorance. Let’s see here, archaic phrase used by the Man from Mars, you can call a engine a motor but not the other way ’round, this car is not an American design, and factories, what? 

**The extra 200 pounds of metal bracing added to each glider so that this aging design can score better in crash tests – that’s going to be built by American companies in China?

***How wrong could you be? Who told you this - are you just guessing at everything?

Coda Automotive DeathWatch, Day 1: Deliveries Delayed Once Again – Promised Chinese Electric Cars to Come in 2011

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The NYT’s Jim Motavalli has some news about California’s very own electric car company today:

Coda Automotive is a start-up company that will deliver its first $44,900 electric cars to customers in its home state of California “in three to four months,”said its president and chief executive, Kevin Czinger.”

What that means is that, once again, an electric car company is letting you down, ’cause deliveries were just recently promised for the “fourth quarter of 2010.” (Seems as if promises from any kind of car company aren’t really worth that much these days.)

Now, back in the day, just three years ago, the electric car we were going to get from China was called the Javlon XS500. It was suppose to come in 2008. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles Automotive on the $30,000 Javlon XS500 all-electric sedan

Then, in 2008, we were promised the Miles XS500. That was going to come in 2009. It didn’t. Check it:

Miles XS500 will be a lot more expensive than planned, maybe

Then, in 2009, we were promised the Coda Automotive Sedan. That was going to come in 2010. It hasn’t so far. Check it:

Coda Automotive Unveils New Mainstream All-Electric Sedan

So, based upon the statement written on the NYT website, I guess it’ll be 2011 before the “final assembly” plant in Benicia, CA starts rolling out product.

(Perhaps it’s easier to badmouth Nissan than fulfill promises? Sure looks that way…)

In other news, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Distribution, Michael A. Jackson has left the building. Mmmmm….

And hey, remember Webvan, that slow-motion car crash of a dotcom company, you know, the one that made a big splash and then soon after went belly up, the one that was brought to you by, among others, Kevin Czinger and Goldman Sachs?  

Well, KC and GS are back again with Coda Automotive.

Let’s see how they do this go-around…

New York Times Writer Tom Friedman Gets All Excited About Electric Cars – Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Listen to Him

Monday, September 27th, 2010

New York Times writer Tom Friedman visited a battery factory in China and then took a test ride in a Coda Automotive Sedan listening to an electric car CEO all the while.  Now he’s so excited, he wants you to give more money to the United States electric car industry.

Basically, Tom thinks we need to have the government spend money to keep up with the Euros and the Reds, just like back in the 1960′s when we paid Boeing to waste money building supersonic aircraft, because it was The Future, because the Euros had the Concorde and because the Russians had the TU-144, because Everybody Else Was Doing It.

Should we trust the CEO from this company when he asks us for more money?

Now, here’s a bit of the reaction to Tom’s op-ed so far, and here’s my reaction, bit by bit. Let’s let Tom go first:

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports…

Not exactly sure how building airports is a “moonshot”  but oh well. Anyway, he goes on about high speed rail and stem cells and then gets to electric cars:

Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities.

This is industrial policy, this is government picking winners and losers. This is automatically, necessarily a good thing? Really?

In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

That’s a big assumption, right – Tom knows what the “next industrial growth engine” is going to be? 100% sure about that?

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

America plus about four dozen other countries, right?   

Moving on:

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place.

Shai “Music Man” Agassi is a nut. He’s another rich guy wants to change the world. It’s not a foregone conclusion that his battery-exchanging scheme will function as planned, right? I mean, A Better Place might not work out even with all that government money he’s getting.

First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class.

So what. What’s so magical about building cars as opposed to refrigerators and whatnot? Was there ever a time when the average middle class worker worked in the auto industry or anything associated with the auto industry? Nope.

Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil.

Petroleum produces the electricity that powers the cars, right? Oh, what’s that, we’ll need some more moonshots to get solar and wind power going? Yes we will. 

Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Spin-offs? Now we’re talking. That’s just like the Apollo program – it’s Whitey on the Moon! The point of Apollo was to make spin-offs, is what some people think. Why not just build iPhones  and “power electronics and software” if that’s what you think we need. What’s magical about building electric cars?  Weren’t the Apollo missions cancelled when people realized what a big waste of money they were? Wasn’t the entire Space Shuttle Program a c0lossal waste of money as well? Wouldn’t a manned mission to Mars be an even greater waste of money? That might be a good program for Morton Thiokol or whomever, but would it be a good program for America? Shouldn’t moonshots have a raison d’être before we start writing checks?

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars…

Lot’s of luck with that one. First of all, “Europe”  had $7 a gallon gasoline long before the electric car companies started to lobby the influential writers of the New York Times. But anyway. And didn’t Hillary Clinton just run for President saying how we needed a cut in gas taxes? Might she do that again? Yep. So, that’s a tough row to hoe, raising gas taxes. I’m with you, Tom. Let’s raise gas taxes if we can. But we should do that independent of what they do in Europe, right? Otherwise we’d get most of our electricity from nuclear power the way they do in France and we’d have a nuclear waste dump in Napa County the way do in their Champagne region.  

China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan.

Boy, that’s what we need, a five-year plan?

Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going.

There is no “Moore’s Law of electric cars.” Sorry. Shai Agassi sold you a bill of goods, Tom. He feels it’s his job. That means that he’s the last person in the world people should listen to to learn the truth about electric cars. People have said the same thing about Telsa and its use of 7000-whatever AA-sized (or whatever, close enough) industrial batteries but we’re not seeing anything like this kind of improvement in this part of the battery market.

U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

“God” save us? Thanks NYT, I learned something new about you today. GM can build an electric car is it wants to. Nissan is doing so right now. Why do electric cars need to be from U.S. companies? Why do we need more corporate welfare for building cars in America?

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company.

No, Tom. You visited a Tianjin Lishen Battery facility in Tianjin, China

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on.

KC is yet another smart guy on a ego trip running a crap electric company, so let’s immediately buy into everything he has to say, shall we?

The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil.

Tell me in which era this mythical time was and I’ll tell you how you’re wrong.

It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger.

So Kev, you don’t like foreign things, huh? Let’s make a note of this. Oh and BTY, the top two suppliers of foreign oil are, can you guess, Canada and Mexico. That’s not all that foreign, is it?

“We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.”

Autos are not a “middle-class-destroying machine.” Sorry.

A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

Ooh, I’m an millionaire NFL football team owner. Now, build me a stadium and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. No no, even better, I’m a bored former Goldman Sachs partner and now I’m a millionaire Chinese electric car company CEO. Now, build me a battery factory and pay for it and then all sorts of wonderful things will happen. Promise.  

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000).

Whoa, slow down Tom. 1) 14,000 of might be on the road in California over the next year. Never ever trust what the CEO of an electric car company says, right? Maybe Coda will unload 7000 units to the govmint as promised (the state of CA has changed its mind about buying electric cars before, right?) and 7000 units to consumers of the next 12 months or maybe they won’t.  2) Final assembly will take place in Oakland? First I’ve heard of this. First it was L.A. County, then it was going to be in Benicia and now you say it’ll be Oakland? Is this a scoop, Tom? But does anybody know about this in Oakland yet? Nope. Oakland is either a scoop or an error - Only Time Will Tell. 3) The price, she is $44,900.

It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

Again, Only Time Will Tell.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t we importing new electric cars from China right now? I think so. The Coda Automotive company is doing it, right? Helloooo, Tom? Lot’s of luck putting gasoline prices “in place” (or, in other words, raising federal gas taxes sky high), Tom. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. And haven’t we thrown too much money at American auto companies the past few years? Making cars is nothing special, despite what CEOs tell you when they’re driving you around Manhattan, Tom.

What’s next? Maybe a CEO from Big Corn could drive Tom around on a John Deere somewhere in the Midwest and then he could write about how we need to throw more money at corn ethanol?

What do you think, Tom?

All-Electric Nissan Leaf Just Sold Out – Similar Chinese-Made “Coda Automotive” Sedan Still Available

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

That’s it. The news of the day is that 20,000 Americans have already put deposits down on the all-electric Nissan Leaf - if you want to buy one, that’s a negatory, Good Buddy.

Lovely Alyssa Milano just reserved the Last Leaf, so that means No Soup For You!

Maybe next year.

See how Nissan USA just broke the news:

Dear Ladiesman217,
We are thrilled with the overwhelming enthusiasm people like you have shown for the 100% electric Nissan LEAF™. To date, 20,000 people have already reserved a LEAF – a number that has exceeded our expectations.

We have completed the first phase of reservations. In order to provide the best level of customer service and premium ownership experience to the first Nissan LEAF drivers, we will not be accepting new reservations until the next phase begins. A subsequent phase of reservations will begin next year, after current reservations and orders have been processed.

We’re grateful for your understanding and patience as we work to bring this 100% electric car to you.”

And truth be told, Nissan’s first batch of Leaves (Leafs?) coming in a couple months will be limited to 200 vehicles max, so you’d have a bit of a wait even if deposits were still being accepted.

In other news, here’s what the front of the similar all-electric Coda Automotive Sedan will look like in green. (It’s the one angle that doesn’t make it look like an 11/10 scale model of a 1994 Honda Civic.) Isn’t that just Thrillsville?

Anyway, now you have a rationale for getting the massively overpriced, underengineered (we’re talking about the direct-from-China lipstick-on-a-pig, how-much-more-steel-should-we-add-on-before-we-safety-test “glider” part of the car, not necessarily the motor and the direct-from-China battery – these bits might be sufficiently engineered, we’ll see) Coda, just tell people that you wanted a Nissan, but they’re no longer available.

I can’t refute that.

However, the bulk of your new Coda sedan is either somewhere in the Old World or en route on a ship in the Pacific right now. Coda Automotive might slap their cars together in the east of the east bay at a “factory” in Benicia, CA -  they’ll have to make a deal soon or else they’ll miss their goal of starting to deliver cars by the end of this quarter.

On It Goes…

Whatever You Do, DON’T Put $499 Down on the $45K, Mostly Chinese, All-Electric Coda Sedan

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I’ll tell you, the Mitsubishi Carisma didn’t exactly slay the European market when it went on sale a decade and a half ago. Simply, it wasn’t popular. Then a regional car maker in China tried to take the design from Mitsu and make a version to sell to the Chinese in 2005. It wasn’t popular there neither, even at a price of just $10,000. It, as they say, “lacked quality to make a mark” in the Chinese market. O.K. then.

Well, they went and took out the gas engine and fitted it with a big heavy battery and a lightweight motor and that’s how we’re getting the 2011 Coda Automotive Sedan at a price of, wait for it, Holy Toledo, $44,900. That’s the news of the day, 45K, officially.  

Should California and the feds give you tax credits to buy this thing if all Coda Automotive is going to do is raise the price sky high?

What a POS this thing is. Just look at it. In some ways better, and in some ways worse than your sister’s ’94 Honda Civic:

Now, they’re going to have a showroom in the bay area soon and they’re going to let you take a test drive starting next month. Fine, test drive the thing, I don’t care. But don’t give them a deposit, don’t encourage them. 

All right, what about the all-electric Nissan LEAF, the Coda Sedan’s arch-rival? The LEAF is better and cheaper.

Here’s what an overly-excited CODA fan was saying about the LEAF last year:

“It’s an alien-looking buggy with small wheels and no nose that won’t look like a real car to American buyers”

Uh, no, that’s incorrect. Sorry.

via NissanLEAF

Hey, here’s a question:

Why is the LEAF so much cheaper than the CODA?

Yes the CODA has a big trunk that the LEAF lacks but so what. (The CODA  has small rear seat area because of that big trunk, so oh well.)

Uh oh:

“More ominously for the company, the sedan is more expensive than the Nissan Leaf, which will retail for $32,800 before incentives. Put another way, the Leaf is almost as cheap before incentives as the Coda is after incentives. And Nissan has a well-known brand name and  years of automotive experience.”

Here’s another question:

Why does the CODA cost so much more than the Chinese design it’s based upon?

Here’s another question:

How on Earth can people call the CODA an American car if the bulk of it, the glider (basically the entire car except for the battery/transmission) is made in one factory in China and the giant battery is made in another factory in China? What’s that, you wait for the boats to arrive in L.A. County Contra Costa? Solano?, Alameda? (one of them counties anyway) and then slap the battery and various whatnots inside the glider and that’s your “final assembly” in America? I cry foul.

Let’s face it, the Coda Sedan is a Chinese car, whether you like that or not.  

Maybe a $45k electric sedan seemed like a good idea last year, but this thing is looking like a clunker already. That’s why people are saying that it, “may be a tough sell.”

Now, speaking of tough sells, let’s look at some of the marketing we’re getting from the CODA people. Go ahead, click and read along: 

Electric agility

“The CODA might be the most agile car you’ve ever driven.”

Nope!

“Do you know the feeling of stomping the pedal and waiting for the car to build speed? Those days are over. The experience of driving a CODA is completely different.”

Well, I know what a Chevy Chevette Diesel automatic is like. It’s slow, with a o-60 time of 20 seconds plus. I know your CODA is quicker than that, but is the experience of driving the thing “completely different” from other cars? Nope.

“It’s small, energy-dense UQM PowerPhase® electric motor packs a punch, and weighs hundreds of pounds less than internal combustion engines.”

How can a motor be “energy-dense?” Shouldn’t you be talking about the energy density of the battery instead? Speaking of which, how much does the battery weigh? Isn’t that the more salient aspect?

“So whether you’re standing still or moving at a good pace, you’ll get instant torque and acceleration when you need it.”

You’re selling an electric car on this basis? Isn’t the CODA slower than the average car being sold today? Yep.

All right, caveat emptor.

All the deets, after the jump

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