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.

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