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Electric car maker CODA files for Chapter 11

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm •  Published: May 1, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Electric car maker CODA Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday after selling just 100 cars and said it plans to quit the auto business altogether.

The Los Angeles-based parent of CODA Automotive filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Delaware. A consortium of debtors plans to acquire CODA for $25 million, according to a company statement.

The company's statement said it plans to concentrate on CODA Energy, an energy storage business founded two years ago, and exit the automotive business.

"CODA Energy's products are based on the same core battery management technology found in its vehicles adapted for stationary applications," the statement said. "One of the company's installations in San Francisco, for example, helps a large hotel integrate solar power efficiently and avoid peak electricity charges."

The 4-year-old company now has 40 workers. It furloughed around 50 but expects to call them back when the sale is completed.

CODA is the latest casualty in an electric vehicle market that has struggled to lure consumers who are skeptical of the short battery life, high price, and a lack of infrastructure that can require recharging stops of several hours on long trips.

Last month, Anaheim-based Fisker Automotive Inc. confirmed it had laid off about three-fourths of its headquarters workers as it struggles with financial and production problems. Fisker, which makes the $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, missed a crucial production target for a half-billion-dollar public loan.

It has sold fewer than 2,000 Karmas, despite early projections of 11,000 sales per year, and it hasn't produced any cars since its battery supplier filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

Tesla Motors Inc., based in Palo Alto, sells an electric car that starts at $62,400 after a federal tax credit and can go up to 230 miles on a full charge, with pricier versions that can go 300 miles. Tesla has sales or service locations in 19 states but has yet to turn a profit and owes the government for a $465 million federal loan.

CODA's business plan of marketing to private consumers was unrealistic because it pitted the startup against established players, said Phil Gott, senior director of IHS Automotive, an auto forecasting and advisory firm.

"They're not alone," he said. "I just think they're the latest victim of very big dreams and very shallow pockets."

"It speaks to people with, let's say, an unrealistic view of what it takes to enter ... the car business," Gott said. "People don't buy technologies. They buy utility, they buy style, they buy convenience, they buy service, they buy warranty support.

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