Coda Emerges As Energy Storage Company

By · August 23, 2013

Coda Sedan battery system

Battery technology used in the Coda sedan is at the core of Coda’s energy storage business.

Coda Energy, the remains of former electric vehicle maker Coda Holdings, is a silver-level sponsor of the Energy Storage North America Expo and Conference in San Jose, Calif. in mid-September. This may be the new company’s first public appearance since Coda Holdings was dissolved and its energy storage assets were purchased by a group of investors.

It remains to be seen if Coda can be a more successful energy storage company than it was a manufacturer and marketer of battery electric vehicles. It failed in that endeavor through a combination of problems: an undesirable product and, according to former employees, unsuitable management and overly ambitious investor demands.

Leadership will be key to Coda Energy’s survival. Rather than bring in fresh talent, Coda Energy is being led by two Coda Holdings alumni, Ed Solar and Pete Nortman. Solar, the former head of Coda Holdings energy storage systems division, previously worked for several energy-sector companies, according to Coda. They included the now-defunct Arcadian Networks, a start-up broadband communications systems designer, as well as CES International, a telecommunications equipment engineering company.

Nortman, who led the core technology engineering team at Coda Holdings, co-founded EnergyCS, a battery systems developer acquired by Coda Holdings in 2011. Previously Nortman worked on advanced battery and high voltage system integration at charging station and unmanned aircraft maker Aerovironment Inc, . and the now-defunct EV conversion company U.S. Electricar Inc., according to Coda.

Like Coda Automotive, Coda Energy is operating in a business segment that has yet to materialize in any large-scale way. But Lux Research said the global energy storage market will grow nine-fold to $10.4 billion by 2017. So the sector is already crowded with competitors.

More than just a battery, energy storage systems incorporate battery and thermal management systems and power source controllers. An energy storage system allows utilities or companies to store energy and use that when they have consumption spikes to avert high charges, among other uses. “It is a very cost-effective application for energy storage today,” former Coda Automotive and now Coda Energy spokesman Matt Sloustcher told PluginCars.com.

Other remnants of Coda Automotive linger at Coda Energy. Though the joint venture with Chinese battery maker Tianjin Lishen was dissolved along with Coda Holdings, Lishen remains one of Coda Energy’s battery cell suppliers, said Sloustcher. Coda Energy is looking for other cell suppliers as well, he said, because different kinds of cells are needed for different applications.

Hopefully Coda Energy’s investors are more patient than those earlier Coda Holdings investors, and hopefully its energy storage technology is actually good, and the management capable. That would suggest there is a life for the former EV maker after all.

Comments

· · 4 years ago

I think even in this space Coda is going to have a hard time competing with Tesla. Tesla is flying under the radar with their energy storage business, but they already have grid storage implemented at a few of their SuperCharging locations and have residential options for installation via SolarCity. Tesla is a leader in battery management and gets volume discounts on cells due to the amount they order for their vehicles, so this is going to be a tough area for Coda to be successful in.

· · 4 years ago

"a business segment that has yet to materialize in any large-scale way"?

Debatable. There are many players, from pumped hydro to underground compressed air to grid scale battery arrays. This field is growing fast, and with wholesale electricity rates going negative at night in more and more areas, there are big opportunities.

Battery arrays can play in the regulation services market, which is a 10 second product, not bulk energy.

While Tesla is making a minor play in grid storage, it appears to be tangential and primarily a way to reduce demand charges. I have seen nothing to suggest Tesla is approaching the grid scale storage market in a way like EnerDel or the others with tractor-trailer sized arrays of batteries.

· · 4 years ago

Do you see the products they offer at CODA Energy LLC? Fleets of electric vehicles which look just like the CODA I purchased in January. My vehicle intermittently losses power while driving down the road. I have been dealing with this problem since day one. CODA Automotive consistently rejects my requests to fix or repurchase the vehicle though I have recorded several of my experiences. And now they are hiding behind their bankruptcy. My local authorized CODA service company can not fix the problem largely due to the inability to get a CODA technician on the problem. CODA Energy LLC has the ability to continue to sell/lease these vehicles while I am stuck with an unreliable and dangerous mode of transportation.

· · 4 years ago

CMM, if you ever come back to check on this post here's some advice:

Ensure you are fully charging the vehicle, there was a known issue with cell balancing in the battery software that was due to incomplete charge cycles. If too many incomplete charge cycles happened back to back, some of the cells would not be as high as others and the overall usage of the battery depended on the lowest cell. This is especially easy to do on a 110 V connection since there is a longer period of time from when it appears to be at 100% to when it is actually done. Good rule of thumb is don't unplug until the amber charging lamp on the dash is off (plug with a short cord).

· · 4 years ago

Thanks for the advise. This is our second EV. We are aware of the balancing issues in EVs. We have charged the vehicle regularly, properly, overnight, and with it's CODA issued 240v charger without an extension. The vehicle has spent weeks at the service station while they test drive and charging. The service technician has experienced this problem as well, but CODA will not invest any resources to fix the problem. The vehicle has given an error code which CODA will not help the service company to decipher and correct. What happened to my warranty? And I can not take recourse with CODA because they have filed for bankruptcy.

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