Coda Automotive, a California-based electric car company with plans to introduce a sedan late this year, said Tuesday it would build a lithium-ion battery plant in Ohio if it could gain approval of an as-yet unsubmitted Energy Department loan. That’s a big if.
Coda, which last year ended a similar bid for a battery plant in Connecticut after $38 million in federal funding fell through, may have a better chance this time. Last weekend, the Commerce secretary, Gary Locke, toured Coda’s joint-venture battery plant in Tianjin, China, commenting, “International green technology partnerships can produce rapid job growth back home and deliver energy solutions abroad, and Coda’s venture proves it.” Coda has also recently closed on a $58 million funding round, signaling some financial stability. But there are many contenders for the Energy Department loan money.
Several potential sites in the state are being considered, including Columbus, Ohio. State officials are plainly in favor of Coda’s plant, which the company said would initially employ more than 1,000 people. “The competition for this project between states was intense,” said Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat. The state, he added, made the case for Coda “to invest in Ohio because of our skilled workers, world-class manufacturing infrastructure and competitive business environment.”
Still unclear, however, is the contour of a state incentive package.
Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said that if the factory opened, “Ohio workers will help manufacture the cars of the 21st century. Ohio is quickly becoming a national leader in clean energy component manufacturing for the auto industry.”
The Ohio plant would be operated by Lio Energy Systems, the joint venture between Coda and Lishen Power Battery that operates the one-million-square-foot Chinese plant, which can produce more than 20,000 battery packs a year. According to Coda, the proposed Ohio plant, with the automaker as the majority shareholder, would be the same size.
Coda’s car will initially be sold only in California, which offers cash-back subsidies to buyers of electric vehicles. Coda hopes to ramp production up to 14,000 cars annually by the end of next year.