As Fisker has begun rolling out its first Karmas, it has brushed off critics and is hiring key executives while again raising its prices, but will it now be Coda’s turn to be scrutinized?

According to an opinion piece by the LA Times, Coda Holdings is a “Trojan horse” for communist China to infiltrate America’s soft underbelly, but advises the writers, “before considering a Coda as a means of going green, remember all the red blood shed by Coda's real backers.”


2012 Coda electric sedan.

Scary stuff. Will anything come of it? We'll have more below.

Fisker

First though, our favorite maker of six-figure EVers – OK, the only maker thus far – Fisker, snapped up two former Detroit auto industry executives to help with its plans while also deciding to levy a 6-percent price increase effective Dec. 15.

The base-level EcoStandard will now cost $102,000 and the top-drawer EcoChic model will command $116,000.

Fisker reportedly will not penalize those who already paid a $5,000 deposit and these customers have until January 15 to acquire their new Karmas at an already agreed upon price.



 

The latest increase follows one in January 2011 in which the EcoStandard increased to $95,900, the EcoSport was increased to $103,900 and the EcoChic rose to $108,900.

Reportedly Fisker once said it would price its entry level model at $80,000.

What ever anyone thinks of that, BBC’s Top Gear otherwise thinks the Karma is swell.

Or rather, the UK car reviewers that were once accused of staging a push-it-to-the-charger scene with the Tesla Roadster named the Karma the “Luxury Car of the Year” last month.

“Cleverness abounds in the Fisker and adds to the air of intelligent luxury. It works well, it looks good and it must be a genuinely exciting thing to own, said Top Gear magazine editor Charlie Turner, “It’s the top-of-the-line spec that features no leather, just textiles and reclaimed wood. And it’s more convincing than it sounds, managing to look, feel and smell premium without any cow peel in it at all.”

To keep selling these vehicles, the aspiring American startup announced Wednesday that former Ford Motor Co. executive Richard Beattie will head up its global sales and marketing as its Chief Commercial Officer.



From 2002-2007, Beattie, 57, was responsible for sales and marketing at Jaguar Land Rover North America and in 2009 he was promoted to Jaguar North America's executive vice president of marketing and sales.

Previously, Beattie was vice president of marketing, sales, and service at Lincoln Mercury, and held senior management positions with Ford of Europe and Mazda Motor Corp.'s North American operations.

We don’t know if more Fisker hiring is on its way, but just yesterday, Fisker announced former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda will also join it as vice chairman.

LaSorda’s advisory position will be relied upon a day-to-day basis said Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker, as the company prepares its former GM plant in Wilmington to produce extended-range Project Ninas over the coming year.

Automotive News reported LaSorda will be chairman of the company's strategy council.

"This is a huge coup for us," Henrik Fisker said. "Tom is going to be a bit more hands-on than you would expect of a board member. He understands what it takes to be a high-volume manufacturer."



LaSorda, 57, started with Chrysler in 2000 after having worked on the manufacturing side for GM for 23 years. He was named COO of Chrysler Group in 2004, and CEO in 2005.

This latest move to fortify itself with American executives is an indicator of Fisker’s stated commitment to grow as an America car company.

As you may recall, Fisker was loosely accused in a spate of reports for allegedly using taxpayer money to bring the Karma in from Finland, but those allegations have died down, and Fisker has rebutted them all.

Coda has in common with Fisker that it a striving startup based in California. Now also in common is its sedan – as has the Volt – has been added to the club of advanced-tech vehicles whose makers' integrity has been questioned on political grounds.

And at the moment, what a couple of opinion writers are heaping on Coda sounds the most severe.

Coda

Yes, the allegations are positively sinister as written by China watchdogs Greg Autry and Peter Navarro and published by the LA Times.

"A Los Angeles firm has quietly assembled a Trojan horse electric car designed to carry the Chinese military-industrial complex deep into America's auto market," the writers offered in their introduction. "Detroit should be afraid, very afraid."

Without pulling any punches, the op-ed piece goes on to say that a whole lot of misrepresenting is going on for an allegedly 65-percent Chinese-manufactured electric car being presented as “All American.”

“From a jobs perspective, the Coda's arrival means this: American electric carmakers such as California-based Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors, along with the GM Volt and Ford's Focus Electric, will compete on home soil with a company benefiting from all of the unfair trade practices China has used to bury so many other American industries — from toys, textiles and machine tools to electronic assemblers and, most recently, solar panels. These practices range from currency manipulation to reported illegal export subsidies, counterfeiting, pollution and widespread worker abuses.

Taxpayers should be outraged because the Coda is eligible for the combined federal and state tax rebates on electric vehicles of $10,000 a vehicle, while China blatantly blocked the Volt from its Chinese green subsidy unless GM manufactured it in Shanghai and turned over design secrets.

These economic considerations notwithstanding, a closer look at Coda's supply chain reveals a darker truth. The ‘new’ Coda is actually an updated variation on the 6-year-old Saibao from China's state-owned Hafei Motor Co. Hafei is a division of Changan Automobile Group, which in turn is controlled by China Weaponry Equipment Group. This state-owned enterprise supplies China's aggressively expanding military, and its parent, China South Industries Group, owns half of arms dealer Norinco, which reportedly tried to smuggle guns to Libya during the last days of the Kadafi regime ...


The piece goes on to allege "Coda's real backers" have transferred missile technology to Iran and tried to sell AK-47s to U.S. street gangs – and on behalf of its alleged front company, Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh , formerly head of GM of China, has raised more than $300 million.

The writers allege the car company working for those with blood on their hands has raked in money from banks such as Morgan Stanley, other private investors including former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson.

As Bush administration Treasury secretary, Paulson was allegedly complicit in “saddling up the Coda Trojan horse,” the writers contend, and his repeatedly refusing to call China a currency manipulator effectively shut down American businesses, and cost as many as three million American jobs.

What's more, the writers allege Paulson is poised to profit from investments he made that will benefit from China's currency manipulation and unfair trade practices while exacerbating the U.S. trade deficit and unemployment.



 

Whew! Yes a 530-word piece that started with a car seen at the LA Auto Show in a few short strokes made the leap to how America will be taken down. If it seems like a stretch, no doubt you could learn more by buying the writers' book aptly called, " Death By China ."

For its part, Coda denies the allegations aimed directly at it as "grossly inaccurate," and while not denying its Chinese sourcing, says nothing illegal or unethical is taking place.

The company's Director of Corporate Communications, Larkin Hill spoke to us yesterday and said the op-ed was wrong about who owns or controls Coda, adding that by the end of the year the company will have 300 U.S. employees and like Tesla and Fisker, has been working under a "capital light business model."

"We are not in any way owned by Changan Hefei," Hill said.

Instead, she said, Coda's aim is to benefit the U.S. people and to keep intellectual property in the country, but "being privately funded, the company has leveraged global relationships in order to bring a reasonably priced all-electric vehicle to market."



 

And aside from answering queries about conspiracies, Hill said Coda is attempting to do business as usual.

The 2012 CODA is now available for $39,900 in California, and is indeed eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax savings and California vehicle rebate of $2,500.

The battery electric sedan is speed limited to 85 mph and not as aesthetically thrilling as some other EVs, but its 36-kwh battery provides a class-leading 90-120 miles range on average, Hill said, and has been known to travel as far as 150 miles on a charge.



 

Hill said the imported cars receive final assembly in Benicia, Northern California and Coda intends to start delivering them in West Coast launch markets in the first quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine just named Coda Holdings “One of America’s most promising companies.”

Automotive News , Automotive News

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