Recently Coda Automotive laid off 50 employees, some of them senior, in what they called a “rightsizing” effort. At the same time the company has sold very few cars since launching production of their electric car in March 2012. Coda hasn’t released sales figures, but a recall operation last summer affected less than 100 vehicles. At the press event last September, company management tried to claim they’d been in a “soft launch” or “public beta” since the March 2012 launch, however that wasn’t the phrase they used in March. Take all this together and it begins to look like Coda is stumbling badly and may become another failure in Obama’s green technology revolution goals.
In some quarters people are saying that Coda doesn’t have many executives or directors with actual automotive industry experience, and that therefore the company is doomed to failure.
That may be, that actual automotive industry experience is necessary to efficiently launch a new automobile company. Or, maybe not. It is true, however, that there has not been a successful automobile manufacturer startup in the U.S. in dozens of years. The industry is littered with the wrecks of hopeful automobile startups. For example .. there’s the DeLorean, right? But, did you hear, the DeLorean is coming back in 2013 as an electric car?
Anyway, a perusal of Coda’s executive staff bio’s reveals that while the Board of Directors has almost zero automobile industry experience, the senior executives do have a ton of such experience. More importantly, there is a lot of experience in automobile manufacturing outsourcing to China.
The following is quoted from Coda’s website.
Board of Advisors
Paul W. Hobby As the managing partner of Genesis
Park, L.P., Mr Hobby has long involvement in execution and management of
technology investments focused around energy, telecommunications and
media. He also has broad experience as a public company director,
serving in that capacity for leading public companies such as NRG,
Stewart Title, EGL Worldwide, Amegy Bank, Coastal Banc and others for
over twenty years. Mr. Hobby is a graduate of the University of Virginia
and the University of Texas School of Law and is active in public
service in Texas.
Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Edison
International where he worked for 37 years. He is currently a Director
of SunPower Corp., SemGroup, LP, Cypress Envirosystems, and the Senior
Care Action Network.
President Clinton. He is now President of McLarty Associates, a
Washington DC-based consulting company, and CEO of McLarty Companies, a
national automotive retailer based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Treasury under President George W. Bush and led the U.S.-China Strategic
and Economic Dialogue. He is a strong advocate for conservation in the
U.S. and China, and for immediate action to decrease the effects of
climate change. Prior to serving as Treasury Secretary, he led Goldman
Sachs as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Board of Directors
entrepreneur with a long history in manufacturing. Previously, Miles
served as CEO of Detroit Iron & Steel Industries, Reliance
Manufacturing, Puritan Fashions Corp. and Polo Ralph Lauren Jeanswear.
executive positions, including Head of Mergers and Acquisitions,
Worldwide and Co-Head of the Investment Banking Division.
of Swiss aeris CAPITAL AG, a large global private equity firm. He splits
his time between the direct investment team and the private equity fund
investment team. Prior to aeris, Niall was with First Ventury, one of
Germany’s leading Venture Capital firms, where he focused on open
source, enterprise software, security, Internet applications, IT in
healthcare, IT infrastructure, compilers, operating systems, wireless
communication, and home entertainment systems.
Partner at the Angeleno Group LLC., a Los Angeles-based private equity
firm focused on high-growth investments in the energy sector.
of the Board of CODA Holdings. He was employed by General Motors (GM)
for more than 30 years in various management and executive-level
positions. From 1996 to 2000, Phil served as Executive Vice President of
Shanghai GM, and from 2000 to 2005, as Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of GM China. Over a period of 10 years, Phil grew GM’s presence
from 15 employees in its Shanghai operations to 15,000 employees
throughout the country while increasing the unit’s revenue from $300
million to more than $7 billion. Following GM, Phil served in a variety
of executive, board and advisory positions for Shanghai Automotive
Industry Corporation (SAIC), Chrysler and Lear Corporation.
Harbinger Capital Partners where he focuses on investments in the
energy, power and utility industries. Prior to joining Harbinger, he
played a leadership role in advising on and executing the energy and
infrastructure strategies for a number of financial services firms.
James currently serves on the Board of the Pew Center on Global Climate
Change and is a Trustee of Charity: Water.
Director of Riverstone Holdings LLC. He is the current President of the
Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a
foreign member of the US Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joined BP in
1966 and served as CEO from 1995 to 2007. He is Chairman of a variety of
advisory boards. He holds degrees from Cambridge and Stanford
World Strategic Investment Limited, a direct investment arm of New World
Development Company Limited (“New World Group”), a blue chip
conglomerate listed on in Hong Kong and she also holds concurrently the
position of Head of Strategic Investment of Chow Tai Fook Group. She is
responsible for leading the investment team in new investment
activities, monitoring the overall financial performance of the
investment portfolio, and managing divestment opportunities. She has
worked in New World Group for more than 10 years and prior to joining
New World Group, she worked in Commerzbank AG Hong Kong Branch and
Natwest Markets Corporate Finance and has possessed extensive experience
in dealing with merger and acquisition transactions and providing
advisory services for both private and listed companies. She holds
degree from the University of Hong Kong and is a Fellow of Association
of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Senior Management Team
Steven “Mac” Heller, Executive Chairman Mac brings more than 20 years of
investment banking experience to CODA. He began his career at Goldman
Sachs in 1982 and advanced through the executive ranks to become
Worldwide Head of Mergers and Acquisitions in 1996. In 1999, Mac was
also named Worldwide Co-Head of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking
Division, where he played a lead role in numerous M&A and financing
transactions until his retirement in 2002. Mac is a member of the Board
of Directors of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), a
Washington D.C.-based think-tank dedicated to the promotion of electric
drive technology, and is a member of the Electrification Coalition, a
non-partisan, not-for-profit group of business leaders committed to
promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of
electric vehicles on a mass scale. Mac received undergraduate and Juris
Doctor degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
with extensive operating, manufacturing, sales and marketing experience
in both the United States and Asia. Phil was employed by General Motors
(GM) for more than 30 years in various management and executive-level
positions. From 1996 to 2000, he served as Executive Vice President of
Shanghai GM, and from 2000 to 2005, as Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of GM China. Over a period of 10 years, Phil grew GM’s presence
from 15 employees to 15,000 throughout the country while increasing the
unit’s revenue from $300 million to more than $7 billion. Following GM,
he served as Executive Vice President, International Operations for
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). His next executive role
was Chief Executive Officer, Asia Operations for Chrysler. Most
recently, Phil has been a Director of Lear Corporation, and a consultant
and advisor to numerous large sales and manufacturing companies.
financial management and operational experience in both the Automotive
and Power Systems fields. Ashoka was employed with Siemens for over 20
years in Asia, Europe and North America, his last position being
Executive VP and CFO of Siemens VDO Automotive Inc. in Auburn Hills,
Mi., where he helped drive profitability and grow the business from
$1.2Bil to $3.2Bil in revenues between 2000 and 2005. From 2005 to 2008,
he was the CFO at CooperPower Systems Inc. in Milwaukee, Wi., where he
helped establish Cooper’s presence in the Energy Automation Solutions
space. Between 2008 and the present, he was the CFO at ATC Technologies
Corp, a NASDAQ listed company in the third-party logistics anddrivetrain
solutions business in Chicago, Il and the CFO at Key Plastics LLC, a
Private Equity – owned automotive interiors supplier in Detroit, Mi.
Ashoka is a Chartered Accountant, has a BS from the University of
Bombay, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Oh.
30 years with General Motors, primarily working to support GM’s growth
outside of North America. From 1988 to 2008, he was active in the
provision of legal services to General Motors in its Asia Pacific and
European operations. He was the lead lawyer for successful negotiation
and closing of major joint venture agreements with Shanghai Automotive
Industries Corporation, resulting in GM’s billion dollar investment in
Shanghai and establishing GM’s base for successful entry into the
Chinese auto market. He also led the legal team supporting the
acquisition of GM-Daewoo (now known as GM Korea) out of the then largest
bankruptcy in Korean history. In addition, John led legal diligence in
various acquisitions and transactions in Japan, India, Australia,
Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Russia, and the Czech Republic. He is a member
of the Michigan Bar and its International and Alternative Dispute
Resolution Sections. John is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University
School of Law (J.D., Order of the Coif) and has a BA from Wesleyan
manufacturing experience in China under his belt. Formerly, he was
General Manager and Director of Chengdu Aerotech Manufacturing Company, a
first in aviation technology manufacturing joint ventures, producing
engine parts for the U.S. market.
affairs and public relations arenas, Forrest is a seasoned
communications executive. Prior to joining CODA, Forrest was National
Press Secretary for U.S. Secretary of HUD, Henry G. Cisneros and VP of
Investor Relations and Communications at CityView, a $2B urban
development and infrastructure investor. Previously, Forrest held
executive communications positions at ExcitePR, Schwartz Communications,
The Loomis Group, and Cerrell Associates, Inc. Forrest has also worked
on projects with U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan, former UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Mexican President
Vicente Fox, and a long list of local, state, and federal politicians.
operations experience in the automotive industry across the globe to
CODA. Dennis spent 39 years with General Motors in a variety of
management and executive roles, including Executive Director of
Manufacturing for GM China, Vice President of Manufacturing for Saturn
Corporation, Complex Director for General Motors de Mexico, and Plant
Manager at both the Pontiac and Wilmington Assembly Centers. In each of
these executive roles, Dennis oversaw product launches and greenfield
site start-ups. Most recently, Dennis has been a global manufacturing
consultant, advising a number of Fortune 500 companies on competitive
manufacturing. Dennis holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from
Kettering University and an MBA from the University of Delaware.
automotive industry, Thomas has been responsible for the launch of
numerous cars, brands and networks in America, Europe and other
international markets. Prior to joining CODA, Thomas was the VP Europe,
Middle East & Africa for Chrysler Group, LLC based out of Stuttgart,
Germany, where he established and oversaw all new and existing
wholesale, retail and production entities. Prior, Thomas was VP of
International Sales and Executive Director of International Sales and
Marketing for Chrysler Group and DaimlerChrysler in Auburn Hills,
Michigan where he was responsible for Sales, Marketing, Product
Management, Aftersales, Distribution, Strategy and International Product
Creation for over 150 markets, achieving record sales and profitability
numbers in the overall international business from 2006 until the end
of his tenure in 2008. With a Diploma in Business Engineering from
Fridericiana University of Karlsruhe in Germany and an MBA from the
University of Southern California, Thomas began his career at
Daimler-Benz AG and has held numerous development, assembly, sales,
corporate strategy and International management positions within the
strategy, business development, fundraising, project management, and IT.
Chris spent more than six years at McKinsey and Company in the firm’s
operations and private equity practices where he served clients in
several industries including high tech, pharma/biotech, medical devices,
and industrial companies. He worked at Intel Corporation in the supply
network group before joining McKinsey. Chris is an Industrial Engineer
by training with a bachelors and masters degree from the University of
provides system-wide leadership in the areas of human resources and
organizational development, including benefits, compensation,
performance management, recruitment, and retention. She advises senior
management on all aspects of Human Resources, including US and
international compensation and benefits, labor law, and leadership
development. Andreea began her career in executive search, with Rhodes
Associates, and then continued with The GlenRock Group, Keynote Systems,
and AdMedia, where she oversaw a wide spectrum of HR initiatives.
China’s auto industry. She actively participated in many joint venture
negotiations for new automotive projects, and was the main point of
contact with key OEMs and relevant government authorities. In her most
recent position, she was a Senior Advisor at PAC Group, leading a joint
venture negotiating team for a $150 million sino-US automotive project.
Prior to that she served in a number of Business Planning and Public
Affairs positions in General Motors, SAIC and Chrysler.
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