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Sales of Coda electric cars are slow, air bag recall reveals

Coda Automotive appears to have delivered 78 of its electric vehicles at most, according to a recall notice.

August 28, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

Coda Automotive Inc. started selling its $37,250 electric car in March, but it has been silent about its sales.

The Los Angeles start-up appears to have delivered 78 vehicles at most, according to a recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Coda must fix side curtain air bags that were not installed properly and might not deploy in an accident.

Electric car sales overall are far from brisk, but other companies seem to be doing better.

Tesla Motors Inc., a start-up in Palo Alto, has delivered about the same number of its $100,000 electric Model S luxury cars in a shorter period of time. Tesla started production at its Fremont, Calif., factory in late June and has reservations for thousands more once it ramps up manufacturing.

Nissan Motor Co. sold 3,500 of its Japanese-built electric Leafs through the end of July and is close to starting production of the car at a factory in Tennessee.

Look at plug-in hybrids — cars that can travel solely on electric power until the battery charge runs out and then use a gasoline engine to keep going — and Coda's sales of electric cars seem almost immeasurably small. Sales of Toyota Motor Corp.'s plug-in Prius are up to 5,500. General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet has sold almost 11,000 plug-in Volts.

Coda imports mostly assembled vehicles — body, chassis and battery pack — from China and completes assembly at a contract facility in the Bay Area city of Benicia. Analysts believe it is the only predominantly Chinese-made vehicle on the U.S. market.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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