Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coda electric sedan

Behold, the Coda electric car by Miles EV. The company reports this as being a "midsize" car, so let's think of it as comparable to a Kia Optima for the sake of discussion. Coda claim that their car will hit the market at $45,000 before a $7,500 federal tax break for electric vehicles, so let's assume that they're right and call it $37,500. It's limited to about 80 mph (suggesting that it has a single-ratio transaxle connecting the electric motor to the wheels) and they report 0-60 in 11 seconds.

Let's compare that to a Kia Optima EX with the 2.4-liter 4 cylinder. It offers 10-ish second 0-60 performance with a proven company that has made tremendous strides in vehicle quality in recent years and has the most generous standard warranty in the business. Since Coda have the chutzpah to compare the price of their car to that of a BMW, let's assume that it's a full-on luxury car with leather seats, nav, etc. You know, all sorts of goodies installed to use up that battery power! So for a reasonably conservative comparison, I checked every option box on Kia's configurator and came up with $25,495. The Coda site lists only "climate control" as far as interior features, and we all know that no one is paying list for a Kia, but let's just stick with that number for now.

If you drove the Optima exclusively in town, getting only the 22 mpg city EPA-rated mileage, you'd have to drive 66,000 miles while paying $4/gallon for regular unleaded to burn through that $12k price difference, without even considering a) the cost of electricity to charge the Coda or b) the time value of money to amortize that $12k over the years it would take you to rack up 66,000 miles (and of course you could only drive 100 miles/day in the Coda, so no long trips... you'll have to rent a different car or pay airfare to go over the river and through the woods.) So realistically, you're looking at a payback of 8+ years without even considering whether or not you could get a better, nicer car for nearly 40 grand...

Do you want an expensive, unproven, limited-range, low-performance car from China?