Electric Car’s Connection to Goldman Sachs

You don’t need a Goldman Sachs connection to invest in Coda Automotive, an electric car start-up based in California, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Coda recently announced that it had raised $24 million, with an undisclosed portion coming from its new advisory board member, Henry M. Paulson, the former Treasury secretary, who, before that role, was the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

Coda’s chief executive, Kevin Czinger, is a former Goldman Sachs executive director, leaving in 1995. Mr. Czinger said in an interview that he brought Mr. Paulson into the company because he had “an interest in the environment and in China, plus he saw the business opportunity.”

Coda’s co-chairman, Steven Heller, is also a Goldman Sachs man. Until his retirement in 2002, he had served as the head of global mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs and reported to Mr. Paulson. “He was my boss for many years, and I’ve known him for 20 years,” Mr. Heller said in an interview. “He’s a tough, rational investor who understands our business model and our strategy and wants to be part of it.”

Mr. Paulson was not available for comment, but he said in a statement: “Coda’s noncapital intensive business model and globally collaborative partnership strategy persuaded me to join the advisory board.”

The Coda electric car is based on the Saibao sedan from the Hafei Automobile Group in China. Coda has a joint venture agreement with its Chinese battery supplier, Tianjin Lishen Battery, but in June Coda said it would also seek federal funding to establish an American battery factory with Yardney Technical Products (which developed batteries for the B-2 bomber and NASA’s Mars exploration vehicles). Coda plans to have its car on the market (initially only in California) next year.


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