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Coda unveils 'practical' all-electric sedan

Coda Automotive shows off an all-electric sedan with a 100-mile range that's designed for everyday use and will be available in California next year.

Updated at 12:45 a.m. PDT with comments from Coda Automotive conference call.

You could call electric car company Coda Automotive the anti-Tesla.

The company, formed by fleet vehicle provider Miles Electric, on Wednesday unveiled the Coda, a plain-looking electric car that's designed for everyday use.

The highway-capable four-door sedan can go between 90 and 120 miles on its lithium ion battery pack. It will be available to consumers in California in the fall of 2010 at a price of $45,000. The cost can be offset by about $10,000 from a federal tax credit and state incentives, the company said.

The Coda: not necessarily a head turner, but meant to be practical. Coda Automotive

Coda is marketing the car as a way to kick the oil habit without having to buy a racy Tesla Roadster for $100,000. "It's a practical revolution for real drivers who need reliable transportation," said Coda Automotive CEO Kevin Czinger in a statement.

The company also announced that it has created a joint venture with Chinese cell manufacturer Tianjin Lishen Battery, which is 60 percent owner, to make batteries for cars and utility power storage. That long-term agreement will allow Coda to have sufficient battery supply, Czinger said.

State-owned Chinese company Hafei is Coda Automotive's chassis manufacturing partner. Coda Automotive designs and markets the cars.

Rather than build a dealer network, Coda Automotive plans to sell cars directly to consumers via its Web site. It plans to establish a partnership so that consumers will be able to test-drive cars in major markets in California, Czinger said during a conference call on Wednesday.

Coda Automotive expects to sell 2,700 electric sedans in 2010 and then explore selling to other markets outside California in 2011, Czinger said. The limiting factor in terms of car volumes is the availability of batteries, he said. Its manufacturing partner will be capable of producing 20,000 battery packs a year in 2011.

The Coda sedan's batteries, able to store 33.8 kilowatt-hours, can be charged from a standard 110-volt U.S. electric outlet. Charge time with a 220-volt outlet is less than six hours.

The cost of owning the electric car will be about $2,000 less per year than a gasoline car because there are fewer moving parts and it doesn't require oil changes. It will cost about three cents a mile to run a Coda sedan, while a gasoline car that gets 20 miles per gallon costs more like 17 cents a mile, according to the company.

The top speed for the Coda is 80 miles per hour and it will accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in under 11 seconds.

Although the Coda isn't necessarily flashy, it will have the amenities that many new cars have including Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation system, iPod dock, and satellite radio. It should be available for test drives by the end of this year.

The company expects the Coda to meet the highest safety ratings with four or five-Star NCAP crash rating. It will be warrantied for three years and the battery is guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles.

During the conference call, Czinger said that Coda Automotive and another U.S. company have applied for a grant in April with the Department of Energy's $2 billion program to promote domestic battery manufacturing.