Exclusive: First Reports of Massive Layoffs at Coda Automotive

By · December 11, 2012

Coda sedan

Coda Automotive, the California-based maker of an all-electric sedan primarily produced in China, last Friday laid off more than 50 employees, including a substantial part of its sales and marketing staff, according to a source familiar with the company’s business. The source, who contacted PluginCars.com about the news, wants to stay anonymous based on concerns about possible “blow back” from Coda executives.

The anonymous source said the company had sold fewer than 100 units of its all-electric sedan since it went on sale in March 2012—and that sales had virtually stopped after the car was recalled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (for faulty safety equipment) in August. Last week, the Coda sedan earned only two of five stars in recent federal testing of frontal impact—making it even more difficult to instill confidence in prospective customers.

“They just cut everybody they possible could,” said the source. “Their sales department went to just a handful of people. It’s a real mess.” The source indicated that Coda was running low on funds, and that it was having great difficulty finding individual or fleet customers.

John Gartner, an automotive analyst at Pike Research, is not surprised by Coda’s difficulties. “Coda has not been able to gain traction with consumers or fleets,” he said. “Coda's launch vehicle has not been viewed favorably as consumers have not been willing to compromise ‘just’ to have a vehicle with an electric drivetrain.” Gartner said the founders are likely to shift their attention towards developing their battery technology for other vehicle platforms and for grid energy storage.

Forrest Beanum, Coda's senior vice-president of external affairs, issued this statement to PluginCars.com: “CODA has released approximately 50 employees or 15% of our workforce across all functions to streamline our operations and right-size the Company. The Company is taking this action to better position our business going forward. We remain committed to the continued development and distribution of our products."

This post was updated with the response from Mr. Beanum, a few hours after being first published.

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