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Coda To Build Batteries in the U.S. With Energy Dept. Loan


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CODA Automotive, builder of electric cars and batteries, is diversifying its manufacturing operations, which had previously been based mostly in China. The company says it will be opening a lithium-ion battery factory in Ohio that could add more than 1,000 jobs to the local area.The creation of so many green collar jobs is right up the U.S. Department of Energy’s alley. It’s been handing out billions of dollars in grants and loans to companies expanding their manufacturing workforces. CODA seems pretty secure in its ability to get federal money for its new Ohio plant, but construction of the facility will depend on a low-interest loan via the DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program (which it will apply for soon), as well as incentives from the state of Ohio.

Even though it’s going to be in the U.S., the plant will be run by Lio Energy Systems, the joint venture between CODA and China-based Lishen Power Battery. That entity already operates a massive 1 million-square-foot plant in Tianjin, China, that is slated to produce 20,000 battery packs for electric cars each year. The Ohio facility is expected to equal this in size and productivity. CODA, which will be the majority owner of the factory, has yet to settle on a site in the state.

CODA, based in Santa Monica, Calif., still plans to be assembling its electric cars in Southern California, using components (including batteries) made in and shipped from China. It plans to launch its all electric sedan, with an estimated price tag of $35,000 after government rebates, by the end of the year. It has the goal to sell 14,000 of these cars by the end of next year.

If CODA successfully receives its loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, it will be joining the two other major venture-backed advanced vehicle enterprises in California: Tesla Motors (which got $465 million) and Fisker Automotive (which got $529 million). The DOE program funding these companies doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money, however, and a pile of applications competing with CODA.

According to the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, CODA will be applying for between $400 to $500 million from the Energy Department. It also says that Lucent Technologies’ factory in Columbus is one of the leading choices for the new plant.

CODA spun out of Miles Electric Vehicles, a maker of low-speed electric trucks and cars for fleets, last year. It has since raised an impressive $476 million, including $394 million invested in the joint venture Lio Energy Systems earlier this year, and $58 million raised just last week from EDB Investments and Aeris Capital.

This story, written by Camille Ricketts, was originally posted on VentureBeat's GreenBeat, an editorial partner of GreenCarReports.

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