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Coda Automotive names Philip Murtaugh as new CEO

Murtaugh, an auto industry veteran, takes over the position at Santa Monica electric car company Coda after Kevin Czinger resigned in November.

January 22, 2011|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

Coda Automotive Inc., a start-up electric car company in Santa Monica, has named auto industry veteran Philip Murtaugh as its new chief executive.

He takes over the position after Kevin Czinger resigned "by mutual consent" in November.

The company has struggled to bring its four-door, five-passenger sedan to the market but now says it hopes that the vehicle will go on sale in California during the second half of the year. It will be sold at company-owned retail outlets rather than through a dealership network.

The company has previously said that the all-electric Coda will have a 90-to-120-mile range, depending on driving speed, weather and other factors. The cars are to be built on a chassis manufactured in China and based on a design licensed from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. but greatly modified by Coda.

Murtaugh was upbeat about the company's prospects in a conference call with reporters Friday.

"We will be the first emerging player to produce and mass-market an electric car," said Murtaugh, who has spent the last two years consulting but previously worked for General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group.

He said Coda also planned to market its battery technology as a way for utilities and others to store electricity.

Coda is pricing its sedan at $44,900, a sticker price above electric vehicle offerings from the much larger General Motors and Nissan North America Inc. that went on sale this year.

The Coda, GM's Volt and Nissan's Leaf all will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Coda and the Leaf could qualify for an additional $5,000 California rebate, depending on how many are purchased and state budget talks.

Steven "Mac" Heller had served as interim CEO since Czinger left the company.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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