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Electric vehicle maker Coda lays off 15 percent of staff

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Coda Automotive

(Read caption) A Coda Electric Sedan is pictured in this undated photo courtesy of Coda Automotive. The electric vehicle maker has refused to release any sales figures since it put its car into production in March, Voelcker writes.

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If you're a couple of years late launching your car, and it gets only tepid reviews, and then its frontal crash safety is rated at just two stars out of five, it might be safe to say your company has a few challenges.

That's the situation for Coda Automotive, which yesterday confirmed that it had laid off about 50 people, or 15 percent of its 330-person staff.

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The company's senior vice president of government relations and external affairs, Forrest Beanum, issued a statement saying:
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. 

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The quality and safety of our products is of paramount importance.  Coda vehicles meet all applicable U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and achieved an overall 4-star rating in National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing. 

The layoffs were first reported by Plug-In Cars, which said Coda has sold 100 or fewer copies of its 2012 Coda Sedan electric car.

The company has refused to release any sales figures since it put its car into production in March--generally not a good sign.

That compact four-door sedan is comprised of a rolling "glider" vehicle, built by a Chinese company, that's based on a decade-old Mitsubishi vehicle.

Those gliders are imported into the States, where a lithium-ion battery pack, electric traction motor, and power electronics are added at a plant in Benicia, California.

That qualifies the Coda Sedan as a U.S.-assembled car, but the startup company has struggled to offer a fully competitive vehicle.

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Green Car Reports tested the 2012 Coda Sedan in September, and found that it performed adequately and seemed to deliver a viable 100-mile range in real-world use.

But the car was so riddled with detail flaws that irritated drivers that it seemed unlikely to be bought by retail customers against plug-in electric cars from established brands like Nissan or Chevrolet.

And what the company says are the car's competitive selling points--a real-world range of close to 100 miles, a 6-6-kilowatt onboard charger, and its sedan body style--are not likely to remain unique to it for long.

Will Coda survive? Is the 2012 Coda Sedan a viable electric car in today's fast-moving car market?