Auto Car News and Review

Los Angeles: Mullen 700e proves there’s no coda for some EV brands

November 21st, 2014 0 Comments
Mullen 700e Coda EV at LA 2014

“Coda did a good job developing the car … but when they got to the starting line, it died.” – Richard Curtis

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: the “new” Mullen 700e is not a whole lot different than the long-expired Coda Sedan, the all-electric version it’s based on. Actually, “based on” is too generous. The 700e you see above is really just the Coda EV with different badges. When the 700e goes on sale, it will have some updates from the original Coda, notably in the battery, but if you didn’t like the Coda before, you probably won’t like the 700e now.

That doesn’t bother Richard Curtis Jr., the consolidated president of Mullen Technologies. Previously a Coda dealer in California (he also sold Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt plug-in vehicles), Curtis said that when the Coda Sedan was available it sold well. “Coda did a good job developing the car,” he said. “[They spent] $ 400 million, it’s a nice car, it worked well but when they got to the starting line, it died.” Curtis said he still gets multiple emails or calls every day from people asking if they can buy a Coda.

Which brings us to the Mullen 700e that’s on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. Curtis and some partners bought the assets from Coda Automotive for an undisclosed amount (it was “a bargain,” Curtis said) a while back and has since sold about 50 of the leftover cars. Coda Cars had interest from potential manufacturing partners in Turkey (cancelled because of the Syria situation) and China (also cancelled) before it was sold to Mullen about three months ago. That’s why Coda Cars is now a Mullen Technologies company, and why the EV bears the Mullen 700e badge.

Mullen and Lishen are working on a 200-mile, 50-kWh pack.

The two vehicles on display here in LA are still basically Coda vehicles, but Curtis told AutoblogGreen that once the decision to restart production has been made, new vehicles could be rolling off the line in 90 days from the former Coda plant in Harbin, China. Looking forward, Curtis says that US production could happen as the volume goes up. “We’ve talked to a few different states about building in their states and maybe giving us an incentive,” he said, naming Michigan and Nevada.

Those new cars will have bigger batteries, still made by Lishen. While the original cars has a 31-kWh battery pack, the 700e will have a 40-kWh pack and Mullen and Lishen are working on a 50-kWh pack. Other difference include 16-inch low rolling resistance tires (instead of 17-inch low profile tires) and undercladding on the back end. Those changes turn the original 125-mile car into a 150-mile car, Curtis said, and with the new 40-kWh pack, it’s over 180 miles. With the 50 kWh, that jumps to over 200 miles. Curtis also said that he was going to look at revised design sketches for the new vehicle during the show and that, “When we finally go into production, we’ll have a new front and back.”

Curtis said that Mullen still has 85 old cars that are just waiting on new battery packs. When they go on sale, the price tag will look a lot like the Coda’s, too. “We’re going to try to price it at what the original car was priced at,” Curtis said. For the record, that vehicle started at $ 44,900 before the MSRP was dropped to $ 39,900.

Los Angeles: 2015 Porsche 911 GTS widens your rear-engined choices

November 21st, 2014 0 Comments
2015 Porsche 911 GTS

“Porsche needs to offer more versions of the 911″ is not a phrase you’ll hear uttered often. Not with 15 versions already in the catalog. But with the opening of this year’s LA Auto Show, Porsche has introduced four more to bring the total up to nineteen variants. And more are no doubt on the way.

What you’re looking at is the new Porsche 911 GTS, which has grown from one model in the previous generation to four. Buyers will be able to choose between rear- or all-wheel drive and between coupe and cabriolet body-styles, but either way they’ll be looking at a 3.8-liter flat six with 430 horsepower. That slots it in between the base Carrera and the GT3, but unlike the hardcore latter, it can be had with choice of manual or dual-clutch transmission – bringing the available configurations of 911 GTS up to eight.

Spec the DCT and you’ll be reaching 60 in as little as 3.8 seconds, but the pleasure won’t come cheap: prices range from $ 114,200 for the rear-drive coupe to $ 132,800 for the all-wheel-drive cabrio, plus another $ 995 for delivery. But for that much scratch you also get the Powerkit, Sport Chrono package, wider track, lower suspension, Xenon headlamps, Alcantara trim, 20-inch alloys and more all thrown in as standard.

Senator says Takata airbags are ‘ticking time bomb’

November 21st, 2014 0 Comments
Air Bag Recall

“This is a problem that shows deep and wide issues in their quality-control process.” – Sean Kane

Exploding airbags that spray lethal amounts of shrapnel at unsuspecting drivers are “ticking time bombs” that potentially threaten millions of American motorists, a leading US Senator said Thursday.

Although automakers have issued at least two dozen recalls to address problems with the defective airbags made by global automotive supplier Takata, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said the company and a federal regulatory agency haven’t moved fast enough to address the problem.

“Every single one of these Takata airbags could be a ticking time bomb,” he said during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

In a hearing that bore much resemblance to ones earlier this year that probed a General Motors ignition-switch defect, lawmakers Thursday pressed a top Takata executive, the deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others for answers on why it took so long for them to respond to a fatal problem.

At least four people have been killed by the exploding airbags, and several others have been injured. NHTSA closed a probe into the problem in 2009 without taking action.