Recycling of old car designs as Chinese-market vehicles aside, very few car designs live forever in the automotive world. When a car ceases production for whatever reason, it tends to not come back to the same market.
Yet the car formerly known as the Coda Sedan is about to do just that with a phoenix-like resurrection planned for this year’s 2014 LA Auto Show. Like a stray cat on yet another of its nine lives, the five-seat electric sedan is back, this time under the name of the Mullen 700e.
What’s more, the car that is debuting this week at the LA Auto Show is almost identical to the Miles XS 200 — a car which debuted at the very same LA Auto Show back in 2007, long before Tesla, Nissan, General Motors or Ford were making and selling mass-produced plug ins.
But in order to understand this particular debut and the Mullen 700e’s past, we’re going to have to give you a little bit of this car’s
sworded sordid history.
Based on the Chinese-market Hafei Saibo gasoline-powered sedan — which itself was based on a Japanese-market Mitsubishi Lancer Chassis from the late 1990s — the car originally debuted in the U.S. as the Miles XS 200 was marketed as one of the first affordable all-electric models to hit the market.
That model — which morphed into the Miles XS 500 — promised a range of around 120 miles per charge from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, a top speed of 80 mph, and a showroom arrival of late 2008.
By mid-2009, the Miles EV — the company who had imported the Chinese-made electric car into the U.S. in the first place — had made the decision to spin off its full-size, freeway-capable electric car business from the rest of its low-speed, NEV fleet. As a consequence, it started Coda Automotive, a company dedicated to freeway-capable vehicles.
Many years passed, including some fluctuations in expected market price, launch date and a fairly steady stream of staff. Despite some major financial woes — including a desperate last-round of funding — Coda Automotive managed to bring its $38,145 all-electric sedan to production in March 2012.
In the face of better-priced, more capable cars from mainstream automakers like Nissan and General Motors as well as some pretty terrible reviews and a shocking two-star NHTSA frontal crash test rating, most consumers chose more mainstream brands over the retro-styled Coda.
By late 2012, Coda Automotive was in big trouble, laying off fifteen percent of its workforce before slashing prices of its Coda Sedan by more than $14,700 in order to try and attract new buyers. By mid 2013, the Coda Automotive’s parent company — Coda Holdings — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Coda Holdings was reorganised, splitting off the lithium-ion battery pack side of Coda Automotive as Coda Energy, with the remaining unsold Coda Sedans and gliders acquired by Ready Remarketing, who along with a company called Club Auto Sales, tried to offer service and sales of the remaining Coda Sedans under the Coda Cars name badge.
Now it seems Coda Cars has been acquired by Mullen Motor Company — a company which itself has been through several defunct business relationships to bring plug-in cars to market — with Coda Car’s CEO Richard Curtis now President of Mullen Consolidated.
And so this is how the Coda Sedan — a car with more lives than we’ve had hot dinners — is yet again preparing to debut at the LA Auto Show this week under the Mullen 700e nameplate.
There’s a new website, and even a new product brochure, which appears to have skilfully reused photoshopped images from the original Coda Production Run, with just the hood name badge changed to reflect the car’s new identity.
As Autobloggreen details, very little about the Mullen 700e is expected to have changed over the former Coda Sedan design, but there’s a hint that a larger 50 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack could be offered, giving the 700e a claimed range of 185 miles per charge.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’d love to believe that this time the
Miles XS200 Miles XS500 Coda Sedan Mullen 700e is going to make it big in the marketplace.
But while Mullen is keen to market this vehicle as “The All-New, All-Electric Mullen 700e,” in its official brochure, we’ve yet to see any evidence that this isn’t yet another attempt to bring a car back to market that didn’t do all that well the first few times around.
We hope to be proven wrong.
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