Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bay Area Ports Set to Gain Electric Auto Imports

The Bay Area ports could gain a boost in imported vehicles at the expense of Southern California ports if start-up electric car maker Coda finalizes a deal to contract final assembly work on the vehicles at a car plant in Benicia.

Coda is hoping to import nearly finished electric cars built in China and perform final assembly in a West Coast plant. The Santa Monica-based firm had been looking at setting up a final assembly plant in Los Angeles County, but has now reached a preliminary agreement with Amports Inc., which operates a 645-acre automobile assembly plant about 30 miles from the Port of Oakland in Benicia.

The Benicia deal could take several weeks to finalize, according to Amports officials. Amport already performs final assembly work for Ford, General Motors and Toyota.

Coda hopes to import and finish 14,000 of the $45,000 cars by the end of next year, with initial customer deliveries beginning this December. After state and federal subsidies, the price of the Coda vehicles could fall into the low $30,000s.

In addition to looking at Los Angeles County, the firm also looked at a plant in Oxnard, north of Los Angeles. This plant was determined to have insufficient infrastructure to support the 14,000 cars goal.

Coda has estimated that the assembly work would support up to 100 local jobs.