Phil Murtaugh, former Asia chief for Chrysler and General Motors, is the new CEO of electric-vehicle startup Coda Automotive. This appointment comes after several senior leadership changes and delays of its vehicle launches.
Murtaugh will also hold a seat on Coda's board. Murtaugh succeeds interim CEO and board member Steven “Mac” Heller who became CEO after Coda's former chief, Kevin Czinger unexpectedly resigned in November.
Last October, top sales executive Michael Jackson, a former GM executive, quit. Immediately after Heller was appointed, he announced that Coda had delayed the release of its battery-powered sedan until the second-half of 2011.
The vehicle was scheduled to start selling last month. Murtaugh had overseen Chrysler's operations in Asia before he left in December 2008.
One of the highlights of his career is when he led Shanghai GM from its inception in 1996 through 2005. In a conference call, Murtaugh said Coda will sell the car through company-owned retail stores instead of franchised dealers.
Potential customers can schedule test drives online or at the stores. Buyers may also configure the cars online. Coda intends to sell the cars using a no-haggle pricing structure.
Murtaugh said that its approach is “innovative” and “very unique.” Coda aims to begin building the electric cars in May. Coda spokesman Forrest Beanum said that the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently conducting crash testing on the cars.