The 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Returns As The Mullen 700e


Many exciting new cars will be presented at the LA Auto Show this year. The Mullen 700e is not one of them.

In an odd twist of fate, the Mullen 700e is virtually identical to the Miles XS 200, which also debuted at the LA Auto Show back in 2007. That car was the first affordable 5 passenger electric car ever offered to the American public. It promised a range of around 120 miles per charge from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack and a top speed of 80 mph. The importer said it would be available in showrooms by late 2008.

The Miles XS 200, which was later renamed the XS 500, was a clone of a Chinese market car known as the Hafei Saibo, a gasoline-powered sedan based on a Japanese market Mitsubishi Lancer chassis from the late 1990s. None of them ever made it to an American dealership.

In 2009, the importer – Miles EV – morphed into  Coda Automotive, a company dedicated to freeway capable electric vehicles. It slapped a Coda badge on the back of the Miles 500, formerly Hafei Saibo, nee Mitsubishi Lancer. and called it a day. Over the next 3 years, a stream of executives entered and departed the Coda corporate offices and several fortunes were lost as the company struggled to begin manufacturing the now 15 year old car.

When tested by NHTSA, the Coda secured a dismal 2 star safety rating. The company’s reputation was not helped when a video of that dreadful test hit YouTube. Potential buyers decided spending $38,145 for a car that offered occupants about the same crash protection as a Radio Flyer red wagon was not a good idea. In 2013, the company slashed the car’s price by almost $15,000, but wound up filing for bankruptcy anyway.

Now it seems Coda Cars has been acquired by Mullen Motor Company — a company which itself has been through several defunct business relationships in an effort to bring plug-in cars to market — with Coda Car’s CEO Richard Curtis now President of Mullen Consolidated. Little has changed in the past 7 years, although there are rumors the new car will offer a larger battery pack to boost its range to a claimed 185 miles. The company brochure even shows photos of the new car that are virtually identical to the old Coda sedan. Only the nameplate has been changed, to divert the attention of the unwary.

Coda Mullen

Coda XS 500 on left; Mullen 700e on right.

Even though the promise of much better than average range is intriguing, it’s hard to imagine why any buyer would purchase a vehicle from a manufacturer with such a troubled past. If you are interested in knowing how much it will cost to park a brand new all electric 17 year old Mitsubishi Lancer clone in your driveway, the company’s website has this to say: “See dealer for details.”  Uh oh.

Source: Transport Evolved

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.