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Phil Murtaugh Exits CEO Position at Coda Holdings

hil Murtaugh, chief executive of Coda Holdings Inc., spent his last day on the job on Saturday. Murtaugh’s last words as he left the company’s office in Santa Monica, Calif. were, according to a knowledgeable source, “The last one out, please turn out the lights.”

Murtaugh was hired in January 2011 to make a success of the struggling manufacturer of pure electric vehicles, that were primarily sourced from China. It had previously been run by investment bankers with a lot of enthusiasm for electric cars, but with little experience managing a car company—much less an automotive start-up. Although Coda Automotive produced pure electric vehicles, they were nonetheless selling cars. That was the thinking, so bringing in someone with Murtaugh’s extensive industry background was viewed as a shrewd move.

The former head of General Motors China, Murtaugh resigned from that position when G.M. made Shanghai, where Murtaugh was based, the headquarters of its Asia Pacific operations. It also removed full responsibility for the China operations from Murtaugh and installed a management organization that divided the responsibility among several management levels.

Besides being a “car guy,” Murtaugh has a deep understanding of the automotive market and industry in China. Coda sourced the body of its electric vehicle from China’s Hafei Motors and had a battery-producing joint venture with another Chinese company, Tianjin Lishen.
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