Coda ships its first electric sedan (finally)

Updated: Coda’s first electric sedan is finally ready for customers. The company officially drove its first ready-to-ship electric car off the assembly line at its plant in the Northern California city of Benicia, California, on Monday morning, saying that the move is the start of its customer sales. I’ll be at the media event, which kicks off at 10 a.m., and will update this post with photos and comments from the execs.

The first shipment has been a long time coming. Coda was planning on starting shipments of the electric sedan — the first car from the venture-backed startup — back in late 2010, but then pushed that back to late 2011, and now early 2012. It’s not unusual for an electric car startup to push back launch dates, though, and both Tesla and Fisker also delayed the launches of their first electric cars.

Last week Coda’s sedan got its official ratings from the EPA, and it received an 88-mile range (the distance its batteries can go on a single charge), with fuel mileage of 73 miles per gallon equivalent (77 in the city and 68 on the highway). That range is one of the longest official ones out there for an all-electric car, other than Tesla’s higher-end cars, and Coda says its car can do a 125-mile range under reasonable driving conditions.

Coda is directly competing with the LEAF in terms of price, all-electric features and the fact that both cars are pretty basic. Nissan’s LEAF has an official electric range of 73 miles and a 99 MPGe, and costs $35,200 (without subsidies). The Coda sedan has a base cost of $37,900 $39,900, down from $44,900 (before any state and federal subsidies). Coda boosted the battery warranty on its car to 10 years (up from 8 years) or 100,000 miles late last year. Nissan has a warranty of 8 years for the battery for its LEAF.

Coda has a joint venture with China battery maker Lishen, called Lio (oil spelled backward), and is in the process of raising $150 million in funding to help get these inaugural cars to the first customers in California. Other investors in Coda include Aeris Capital and Singapore-based EDB Investments.