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Coda Latest EV Hopeful to Target California for Plant

Coda reportedly is considering two or three yet unnamed locations for the plant, where workers will drop batteries into pre-built chassis and complete assembly.

LOS ANGELES – Coda Automotive Inc. confirms plans to locate a final assembly plant for an all-electric sedan in Los Angeles County, becoming the third car maker behind Tesla Motors Inc. and China’s BYD Co. Ltd. to anchor its electric-vehicle ambitions in Southern California.

“L.A.’s turning into the Electric Detroit,” Matt Sloustcher, a Coda spokesman, tells Ward’s. “It’s really become a hot sector.”

BYD, based in Shenzhen, China, is considering sites in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Lancaster for its North American headquarters and all-electric e6 assembly plant.

Tesla, which operates from Palo Alto, announced late last year it would assemble its all-electric Model S in Southern California. The cities of Long Beach and Downey are the lead contenders for that operation.

News of Coda’s proposed site, first reported by the Los Angeles Business Journal, comes just days after the Santa Monica startup announced it had secured $394 million in committed capital, including a nearly $300 million line of credit from the Bank of Tianjin Joint-Stock Co. Ltd.

Sloustcher says the proposed facility – the auto maker reportedly is considering two or three yet unnamed locations – is where workers will be “putting the batteries into” newly minted Coda sedans.

Reports say the car’s chassis and most other parts will be assembled at a factory in Harbin, China. The almost-finished units will then be shipped, along with their battery packs, to Southern California for completion and distribution.

The Coda model will sport traditional styling and standard safety features and have an electronically limited top speed of 80 mph (129 km/h). Acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) is expected to take about 10 seconds.

The Coda will have an initial price tag of about $45,000, which analysts say likely will drop to about $30,000 after government subsidies.

Coda officials, who just saw the September completion of their lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the port city of Tianjin, China, look to open the new Southern California operation no later than the end of the year, fulfilling the company’s promise to deliver a fully electric, midsize car to U.S. consumers by 2010.

“It’s going to take literally only a couple of months” to get the plant running, says Sloustcher.

Coda’s 4-door, 4-passenger sedan will be powered by a 333V Li-ion battery and a propulsion system that provides a real-world range of 90 to 120 miles (145-193 km), based on Environmental Protection Agency driving cycles.

The Coda will be able to recharge by plugging into any 110V or 220V outlet, requiring only a 2-hour charge for a 40-mile (64-km) commute. A full charge with the 220V line will take six hours, the company says.

With dealerships in Santa Monica and the Bay Area and two more planned in Orange and San Diego counties, Coda asserts it will need to sell upwards of 800 cars per month to break even.

Sloustcher says it’s too early to say how many jobs the new plant will bring to the region, just slammed with one of the biggest mass layoffs in the state’s history after Toyota Motor Corp.’s April 1 closure of its New United Motor Mfg. Inc. assembly plant in Fremont.

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