Los Angeles Business Journal

Car Battery Maker May Have Some Juice Left

ENERGY: Coda offshoot to adapt technology for vehicle-charging station. By James Rufus Koren Monday, September 2, 2013

Although Coda Holdings Inc.’s electric sedan was a spectacular flop, a battery system built by a spinoff of the failed L.A. company could soon be helping charge up other electric cars.

Coda Energy LLC in Monrovia said last week that it is providing a battery system for a car-charging station in the Bay Area city of Benicia. It’s not a big deal, valued at $39,500, but it’s the first deal Coda Energy has announced since it was sold in July out of Coda Holdings’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Coda Energy is selling the battery system to Growing Energy Labs Inc. of San Francisco, the prime contractor on the Benicia project. Coda’s battery will draw energy from a solar array at Benicia City Hall and from the regular power grid.

Company spokesman Matt Sloustcher said the battery system can also provide emergency power in case of blackouts. The battery can store solar power for use after dark, and store power from the electrical grid during nighttime or nonpeak hours – when power is cheaper – for use when demand and prices are higher.

The system might even allow Benicia to sell solar power back to utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

“The battery acts as a buffer between the charger and the grid,” Sloustcher said.

Coda plans to ship the battery system by the end of the year. The Benicia project is likely the type Coda executives hope to replicate as they seek to leverage the power storage technology Coda Holdings had developed or acquired before going bust.

That company, led by former General Motors Co. executive Phil Murtaugh, was founded in Santa Monica in 2009 and sold just 93 of its sedans, which retailed for $37,500 and were widely ridiculed for their lackluster look.

But the car was also praised for its better-than-average range, a hint that the battery technology behind the car was sound. A group led by New York’s Fortress Investment Group LLC bought Coda Holdings’ technology, engineering and energy storage assets in a June bankruptcy sale.