Kevin Czinger, the CEO and public face of Southern California EV startup Coda Automotive, has abruptly resigned.
Czinger stepped down by mutual consent to serve as a “senior strategic advisor” to the company, which keeps saying it will deliver its first vehicles within weeks. Co-chairman Steve Heller will serve as interim CEO until a replacement with deep experience in mass manufacturing and logistics can be found, the company said.
It’s yet another shakeup at the company, where Michael Jackson, senior VP of sales, recently left to start his own firm. Further shuffling the deck, CFO Mark Jamieson will take on the additional role of COO, the company said.
Coda Automotive said the transition was “part of its ongoing plan, at this stage in its growth, to set in place a team with deep manufacturing, marketing and sales strengths.” That makes sense, but the timing — the announcement was made at 6 p.m. Friday — seems a tad rushed.
Czinger, who joined the company in 2008, was synonymous with Coda’s surge. The company was born of Miles Automotive, a small manufacturer of neighborhood electric vehicles based in Santa Monica, California.
Under Czinger — a star college athlete, Marine and Goldman Sachs alum — Coda started raising money and forging bonds with the Chinese government. The company has raised more than $125 million from investors including former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (another Goldman Sachs alum) and John Bryson, a leading figure in alternative energy.
Coda forged an alliance with Chinese automaker Hafei Automotive to produce the car, which was engineered largely by Coda and will be built to its specs using components sourced from many of the same suppliers Detroit uses. China’s government and Chinese banks, meanwhile, agreed to support Lio Energy Systems, the joint venture between Coda Automotive and Lishen that will produce the battery packs.
“Kevin’s leadership role in developing and overseeing the CODA program was truly a remarkable achievement,” Heller said in a statement. “Kevin and I have been friends for more than 20 years and I look forward to continuing our friendship and benefiting from his insight as our senior strategic advisor.”
The sedan, which Coda keeps saying we’ll see this year and will be available only in California to start, will cost $44,900 before incentives. Tack on the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and the California incentives and you’re down to $32,400. That price gets you a nicely appointed electric vehicle with a claimed range of 120 miles on the US06 cycle.
Trouble is, that price is $12,000 more than the Nissan Leaf will go for in California. And it’s roughly the same price as the Chevrolet Volt.
This story was written by Michael Kanellos and originally published by Greentech Media on Nov. 7. Coda executives will speak at The Networked EV hosted by Greentech Media on Tuesday in San Francisco. Executives from Panasonic, which recently invested $30 million in Tesla Motors, and Tesla also will attend.
Photos: Coda Automotive
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