MANHATTAN – I am riding shotgun around Times Square in an electric car, and we’re dodging traffic. On a hot, traffic-filled day in the city, we’re looking at the world’s toughest crucible for battery cars. It’s a good thing the Coda’s battery pack has a sophisticated forced-air cooling system.

My pilot is Kevin Czinger, CEO of Coda Automotive, and not your average car guy. The former Goldman Sachs executive (for three years he worked on media deals with people like Rupert Murdoch) looked around at his life and said, “I don’t want to be an investment banker. I want to run companies.”

And now he does. Coda is putting out its electric car at the end of this year in California, where it will compete with the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt and other electric vehicles. In fact, California is a great starter market for electric cars, because the state offers a $5,000 instant rebate.

Here, Czinger talks about his plans on video:

The Coda is a real international smorgasbord. The chassis is built in China from a Japanese design. The batteries are built in a joint venture between Coda and a Chinese company. A number of American and German firms massaged the car’s electric drive system, and Porsche Design gave it a styling upgrade.

It’s fun to throw around the city. The Coda is no road rocket like the Tesla, but it moves out when it needs to. There’s 120 miles of range on tap, about 20 more than the Leaf. And that’s because, as Czinger says, “We have twice the battery.” Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Coda does have a robust 30-kilowatt-hour pack.

Czinger is a competitive guy, and the Leaf should not be dismissed as an adversary in the emerging EV market. We’re already seeing Leaf ads, and it won’t be out for several months. Expect to see Leafs prominent on the Nissan dealer lots, too. Coda will have a network of small display points around California, and the Internet will provide a lot of the marketing. My conclusion: If people actually see the Coda, they may well want one. Let’s hope the price (not yet released) is reasonable.

Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Mean Streets: The Coda battery car in Times Square
The Coda will be on the market (at first in California only) at the end of the year, but first it stopped by for some urban testing in crowded Manhattan.