An (almost) affordable electric car  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Energy Collective has a post by Marc Gunther on a new and relatively cheap electric car from the US - An (almost) affordable electric car.

The other day, I took a spin around your nation’s capital in what is being touted as the first affordable electric car that will find its way onto America’s roads.

Not, it’s not the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf, an import from BYD or Tata or a down-scaled Tesla. It’s the Coda, the product of a southern California startup with an unusual business model and some big-name investors.

My chauffeur was Kevin Czinger, Coda’s hard-charging CEO (no pun intended), about whom more in a moment. Czinger wants to build Coda Automotive into an American car maker that looks more like Apple or Dell than GM, Ford or Chrysler.

Coda’s impressive array of backers includes Hank Paulson, the former treasury secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs; Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, whose family owns auto dealerships; John Bryson, the former CEO of Edison International; and Tom Steyer, the well-respected founder of Farallon Capital Management.

Czinger isn’t as well known but his pedigree includes degrees from Yale (where he starred on the football team) and Yale Law, and stints at Goldman Sachs, Bertelsmann and Webvan. “I’m doing this,” Czinger says, “because I think it’s absolutely critical that we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and don’t destroy the planet earth.”

Standing in the way of his goal is the problem confronting everyone in the electric car business: How to make a powerful battery at a price that won’t put the car out of the reach of most buyers. That, Czinger says, has been the focus of Coda. “All of our R&D and all of our capital expenditures went into the battery system,” he says. “We finally have the chemistry we need.” Coda developed the battery and owns the intellectual property.

To keep costs down, Coda will make the batteries in China through a joint venture with a state-owned company, Tianjin Lishen, which makes lithium ion batteries for cell phone companies. The vehicles will also be assembled in China by a firm called Hakei Automobile Group, which will manufacture the chassis as well.

Mitsubishi are trying to drum up some support for their rather expensive little Miev electric car in Australia too - Mitsubishi champions $10,000 electric-car subsidy.
Japanese car maker Mitsubishi wants the Federal Government to reward buyers who opt for the company's new electric car.

An electric vehicle buyer would be recompensed around $10,000 if the Federal Government accepts a subsidy scheme proposed by Mitsubishi Australia.

But whether the scheme is accepted or rejected by the Rudd Labor government, Mitsubishi will press ahead with its plan to be the first major brand to sell an EV in Australia, planning to launch the plug-in i-Miev in 2010.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia president Rob McEniry said "it would be an absolute shame" if government did not accept the scheme, which will be formally presented early in 2010.

"If it means the customer has to pay more and we have less cars in Australia then so be it, but we will bring the car in."

The i-Miev is already on limited sale in Japan, is homologated for sale in Australia and has been demonstrated here previously.

Mitsubishi has put the cost of the plug-in i-Miev at AUS$70,000, an exorbitant price for a five-door mini-car, but reflective of the cost of its expensive lithium-ion battery pack.


Aren't better place saying their new cars are going to be incredibly cheap for hi-tech electric cars?

Shai Agassi even talked about the gradual increase in battery technology making the cars so cheap that instead of actually buying a car, you buy an energy plan (at $ / km) for 7 years and they give you the car for free.

Shai Agassi at Alfred Deakin Eco-innovation lecture 2009. (Only download the audio as the video is just him walking about).

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