2011 Coda Sedan electric car, at 2010 Los Angeles Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
It’s been just a week since Californian automaker Coda Automotive opened up its first showroom in LA’s Westside in the Westfield Century Mall -- but now Coda bosses have confirmed that it has signed a deal to open a final assembly plant in Benicia, California.
The deal, which Coda has been working on since last year -- will bring around 50 jobs to the area as well as produce all of Coda’s U.S. market cars.
But just like fellow automaker Tesla and its 2008-2011 Roadster, Coda won’t actually be making cars at the Benicia facility from raw materials. Instead, the Benicia facility will be like the final few parts of a production line, installing the car’s electric motors, battery packs and power electronics.
The body of the Coda Sedan will be assembled in China in what is called a glider -- a nearly complete chassis and body minus drivetrain components -- before being shipped to the nearby Port of Oakland.
After a short truck ride, the gliders will receive their power electronics, motor and battery pack at the Benicia facility, technically making the Coda Sedan an American-made car, even though a large proportion of its production happens overseas.
2011 Coda Sedan electric car, lithium-ion battery pack, 2010 Los Angeles Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
But why ship half-finished cars half-way around the world? After all, it’s normally automotive parts -- not fully assembled gliders -- which get moved from place to place.
In a word, cost. For an automaker like Coda, it is much more cost effective to pay another company to produce gliders and then ship them to the U.S. than it is to fully kit and staff an entire production line.
Shipping almost completed cars to its facility also leaves Coda to focus on the thing that it specializes in -- electric drivetrains.
There’s also a final bonus for Coda in having a U.S. based final production facility.
By importing nearly finished cars and then installing the powertrain in California, Coda can legitimately call its 2012 Sedan an American-made car. In turn, that ensures that Coda is at least eligible to apply for U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing low-interest loans.
There’s no details about when the factory will start producing cars -- although Coda claims it will be producing between 10,000 and 14,000 cars at the facility during 2012.
[Coda via TimesHerald]