Coda And Great Wall Motor To Collaborate On BEVsBy Scott Doggett August 17, 2011
Coda Holdings, a Los Angeles-based startup that's been struggling to launch a rather bland but pricy battery-electric sedan (above), told AutoObserver Tuesday that it has signed a letter of intent to develop battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) with China's Great Wall Motor Co. The letter calls for Coda to supply Great Wall with powertrains and other components for electric variants of existing or future gasoline-powered sport utility vehicles and sedans made by the Baoding-based automaker, Coda spokeswoman Larkin Hill said. While emphasizing that the two companies were still working out the details of their relationship, Hill said they had agreed "to move forward with their best platforms and our technology and see what we can develop together. It wouldn't apply to their trucks so much. It's more for their SUVs and sedans."
Coda will continue to work on the $44,900 sedan (minus incentives) that the American company has been developing for years and hopes to launch in the fourth quarter. Coda claims the sedan achieves a driving range of 120- to150-miles between charges. The letter of intent calls for Coda's advanced electric powertrain and related components to be installed in BEVs designed jointly by Coda and Great Wall engineers. Coda engineers are to ensure that the vehicles comply with the safety, emissions and other requirements of the U.S. government and others. The jointly developed BEVs sold in the U.S. will bear Coda badges, Hill said. Great Wall claims to sell vehicles in more than 120 countries presently, but none of the vehicles are BEVs. With Coda's powertrain, Great Wall would be able to sell BEVs in China, Hill said.
Murtaugh's Active Role
The letter of intent comes eight months after Coda hired Philip Murtaugh to be its chief executive officer. The former General Motors and Chrysler executive is credited with building GM's now highly successful Chinese operations. Hill said Murtaugh played an active role in Coda's securing the letter of intent with Great Wall. "Great Wall is definitely one of the most respected brands in China, and he certainly facilitated this partnership," she said. In a statement, Murtaugh said "Coda is thrilled to be partnering to electrify Great Wall vehicles. With an extensive line of vehicles, and the leading Chinese manufacturer selling in volume in the European Union as well as more than 120 countries globally, our collaboration will enable us to provide our respective customers with a broad selection of high-performing and affordable electric vehicles globally."
Great Wall was the first private vehicle automaker to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and currently has more than 30 subsidiaries and 42,000 employees. Its primary vehicle lines include the Haval SUV, Voleex Sedan, Wingle Pickup and MPV wagon, which together accounted for more than 390,000 vehicles sold in 2010, a year-on-year increase of 70 percent.
Stronger Chinese Ties
The agreement expands Coda's strong relationships with other Chinese companies. In June 2009, privately held Coda announced the creation and funding of LIO Energy Systems, a global joint venture with China's Lishen Power Battery, a global battery cell supplier to Samsung, Motorola and Apple. LIO Energy Systems was formed to design, manufacture and sell battery systems for electric vehicle and utility applications. LIO Energy Systems expects to supply battery systems for Coda's sedan initially and eventually BEVs made by a variety of OEMs globally, as well as to renewable energy producers, utilities and other power storage customers.
In a statement, Great Wall Chairman Wei Jianjun said the "partnership will allow us to combine Coda's high-performance EV propulsion system and understanding of the United States market with Great Wall's extensive vehicle platforms, experience in the China market and leading manufacturing capability. I'm confident that our combined strengths will ensure us to together become a significant player in the electric-vehicle segment worldwide." The Coda propulsion system includes: an efficient 36-kilowatt-hour battery with a 134-horsepower motor that achieves 221 pound-feet of torque; regenerative braking; and an air-cooled active thermal management system.