Buoyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in backing, CODA moved from Santa Monica and opened its 100,000-square-foot global headquarters in Los Angeles in the fall of 2011.
Last year, its plant in the Northern California town of Benicia began rolling out its five-passenger sedan. It had a single-charge range of up to 125 miles. The car's battery, body and most other components were made in China and assembled in California.
The company had big plans, estimating it would sell 10,000 to 14,000 vehicles in its first 12 months. Instead, it sold around 100.
Its sticker price of $37,250 — reduced to $27,250 with federal credits and state rebates for electric vehicles — coupled with a lengthy recharge time of six hours and humdrum styling failed to attract buyers.
Investors also became wary, and a proposed $150 million securities offering resulted in less than $22.5 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last year.
The company also withdrew a request for more than $300 million in federal loans.
However, CODA's troubles are simply growing pains for an embryonic technology, Gott said.
"In about a decade or so it'll be really ready for the consumer," he said.
Smart producers would concentrate on selling all-electric vehicles to fleet users, like governments or companies, Gott said. Fleet vehicles generally travel established routes and return to garages where they can be recharged overnight.
They don't need to worry about "interrupting the charge in the middle of the night to take the kid to the hospital," Gott said.
China is one of the hopefuls for fleet sales. BYD Co. Ltd., one of the largest manufacturers of rechargeable batteries, announced plans Wednesday to build electric buses and batteries at plants in California's Mojave Desert. BYD, which opened its North American headquarters in Los Angeles in 2010, says the plant will initially turn out 10 electric buses under contract for the city of Long Beach.