Coda Automotive offers free charging rebate

Coda sedan with wind turbinesHonda is offering $3,000 worth of free fuel with its Civic Natural Gas, and now Coda Automotive is offering its own alternative to the free tank of gas. The California-based electric carmaker is giving customers a rebate for free charging.

The rebate is $552, which Coda says is enough for 10,000 miles of electric driving in its compact sedan, based on an electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh. Citing EPA and AAA data, Coda says it would cost $1,700 ($2,000) to drive a gasoline powered car with 22 mpg the same distance.

How a far a person can get on $552 depends on the cost of electricity, which depends on where a given Coda owner lives and whether he or she charges during off-peak hours. Still, Coda says electricity prices are more stable than gas prices. The company claims gas prices have risen an average of 106 percent since 1992, while electricity rates have only increased by an average of 10 percent.

Free fuel of any kind sounds like a good deal, but what about the car buyers will be filling with those gratis electrons? The Coda sedan is a compact based on the Chinese Haifei Saibao. It has an EPA-rated range of 88 miles (although Coda claims a range of “up to 125 miles’) and is rated at 73 MPGe. 

That means the Coda has a better range than either the Nissan Leaf (79 miles) or the Ford Focus Electric (76) miles, although both cars beat it in MPGe. The Leaf returns 99 MPGe, and the Focus returns 105.

However, the Coda was not designed to dominate in efficiency. Its maker envisions it as a no-nonsense, affordable EV. The only problem with that scenario is that the Coda costs $37,250, while a Leaf only costs $35,200. Both cars are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Still, $552 worth of free electricity should at least make buyers curious. That presents another problem: as with the natural gas-powered Civic, a Coda will be difficult to find. The company has only been signing up dealers since last month, so there are a limited number of places to get this car. Coda plans to open 30 stores in California, Oregon, and Florida.

There really is no such thing as a free lunch, but at least this promotion will benefit EV shoppers who live on the West Coast.

Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Cars

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.