Electric vehicles aren’t yet a common sight in most cities. So for many people, EVs remain a far-off vision of what our automotive future might look like. EV startup Coda is attempting to bring electric cars down to earth with a so-called EV Experience Center in–where else?–a mall.
The center, which opened this week at the Westfield Shopping Mall in Los Angeles, shows off an electric charging station, an interactive educational area, a sign-up station for test drives, and a pre-production Coda EV. But oddly enough, potential customers can’t actually buy vehicle in the store. That’s because the point of the center is, according to Coda, to “bridge the gap of EV curious consumers and those who are considering purchase.” And then, if the startup is lucky, for eager test-drive customers to consider purchasing a Coda EV when it goes on sale later this year.
Coda’s five-seater vehicle, which will cost approximately $44,000 when it is released, charges up in six hours and has a range of up to 150 miles–more than enough for daily commuters. The vehicle isn’t cheap, but then again, that’s probably why Coda chose to put its experience center in an upscale mall.
Coda’s strategy of showcasing its wares in a shopping center reminds us of Tesla’s first George Blankenship-designed showroom in San Jose, California. Like the Coda center, the Tesla showroom is in an upscale shopping neighborhood (albeit not a mall), among stores like Gucci and Tumi.
The strategy of showing off EVs in the middle of shopping centers is a world away from traditional dealerships, which are often found on bustling streets and highways. But it makes sense; people aren’t yet familiar with EVs, so they might not stop on the side of a highway to check one out. They may, however, peek in the window of a friendly showroom (or EV Experience Center) that’s between an American Eagle store and a Sunglasses Hut.