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Business

May 5, 2013

Electric car maker Coda files for bankruptcy

Coda Automotive Inc., the Los Angeles-based electric-car maker backed by billionaire Philip Falcone, has filed for bankruptcy and will put itself up for sale.

Coda listed assets of no more than $50 million and liabilities of up to $100 million in the Chapter 11 filing in Delaware.

The automaker had been almost deathly quiet about sales of its $37,250 car, which had been on the market since March of 2012.

Those sales finally got some transparency from an unusual source — federal safety regulators — last August.

Coda appeared to have delivered just 78 vehicles at most, according to a recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall was for side curtain air bags that were not installed properly and might not deploy in an accident.

The Coda, which had a claimed range of 90 to 120 miles, was initially pitched as an all-American car, but it was mostly made in China.

Its bankruptcy comes at a time when other companies are having more success with all electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

Tesla is expect to announce in its upcoming quarterly earnings report this month that it sold 4,750 of its all-electric Model S sedans, which start at about $70,000.

That compared to the Chevrolet Volt’s first-quarter sales of 4,244, which was an 8 percent increase for the plug-in hybrid compared with the same quarter in 2012, according to Autodata figures.

Nissan saw sales of its all-electric car, the Leaf, double in the first quarter to 3,359, compared to the same period a year earlier. The Leaf this year has an improved range and a lower sticker price.

In addition to that kind of competition, one expert says, Coda was trying to sell its cars at a time when automakers were rolling out several less expensive, conventionally powered gasoline and diesel cars that were capable of 30 miles per gallon or more.

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