The carmaker Coda Automotive is close to opening a final assembly plant in ... drumroll, please ... Benicia.
The Los Angeles Business Journal reports Coda, after flirting for months with Los Angeles, (and fully convincing this now humbled reporter) is now in negotiations with Amports, an automotive processing services company that operates a 645-acre facility in Benicia.Coda also had been considering a plant in Oxnard but decided against it, although the Santa Monica start-up continues to talk with Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner’s office. No comment from Beutner yet.
The decision by Coda is the second disappointment for Southern California officials trying to woo electric carmakers. Tesla Motors of Palo Alto said earlier this year that it would open an assembly plant in Fremont. That was a sad surprise for officials in Downey, who thought they were closing in on a deal.
But Southern California's loss is Northern California's gain, especially for suppliers who can serve Benicia now, as well as Fremont.
The question is, how much of the manufacturing is Coda planning to do in California?
The Coda is based on a sedan first sold by Chinese carmaker Hafei Motors, according to Inside Line, an automotive webzine published by Edmunds. The Coda is being sub-assembled at a plant leased from Hafei. Batteries are being supplied by a joint venture with Lishen Power Battery, a Chinese state-owned battery company. The overall battery system is assembled in Tianjin. There are plans - dependent on getting a loan approved from the DOE - to build the batteries in the Midwest. But for now, Coda plans to ship nearly complete vehicles from China to the plant in Benicia for finishing. Fully operational, the facility is expected to employ 100 people.