Seeing these videos by Aging Wheels made me remember the first time I heard and wrote about the Coda sedan way back in 2012 when I was just starting out as an automotive writer. However, even back then, with not much experience writing about cars, it didn’t strike me like the recipe for a successful vehicle, especially since its debut coincided with the market launch of the Tesla Model S.
However, I’m not sure that the Coda would have had a chance, even if the Model S (or other, better EVs) never existed. It was essentially a rebadged and reengineered version of the Hafei Saibao, literally the most Chinese-sounding car ever made.
Believe it or not, the Saibao is a Pininfarina-designed sedan, and before it was turned into an EV in America, it was actually powered by a 101 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder; its platform was borrowed from a 1990s Mitsubishi Lancer.
As the Coda EV, sales began in March of 2012, but the car was only available in California and in its first year on sale, only 117 examples found homes. Why was it such a monumental flop? Well, this was due to several factors, but the main problem was the car being perceived as bland, plus it had a small 31 kWh battery pack and an EPA rated range of just 88 miles (142 km).