North Bay Business Journal

Monday, January 9, 2012, 6:00 am

California getting majority of electric vehicle VC, study finds

Makers CODA, Zap employ about 100 in the North Bay.


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    Zap Jonway's Alias model is expected to be available this year.

    NORTH BAY — A December report by the Next 10 public policy group showed that California brought in $840 million in venture capital invested in electric vehicle technology, 80 perent of the U.S. total.

    As the industry grows throughout the state, two electric vehicle companies in the North Bay said that they were also gaining momentum.

    Zap Jonway, a Santa Rosa-based manufacturer and developer of electric vehicles, and CODA Automotive, based in Santa Monica with an assembly plant in Benicia, are among a number of middle-size manufacturing companies looking to develop a niche in the growing market.

    “We’re looking to focus on vertical markets like corporate fleets,” said Zap co-CEO Steven Schneider.

    The JNZ SHUTTLE, produced through Zap's acquisition of Jonway.

    The nonpartisan Next 10 group, founded by venture capitalist F. Noel Perry, prepared the report as part of its goal to foster environmental and technological innovation in California.

    The report indicated that the electric vehicle industry in California had grown 142 percent since 1995, increasing from 740 jobs to 1,790 in January 2010.

    Some of those jobs are here in the North Bay: CODA entered into an agreement last year with Benicia automotive processing company Amports Inc. to conduct the final assembly of their all-electric vehicle after manufacturing in China. Between 10,000 and 14,000 of the cars are expected to be produced in the first 12 months, and Amports general manager Randy Scott told the Business Journal in September that the two companies would hire 50 employees for the work.

    The company recently announced that its flagship sedan will be available to consumers at San Diego showrooms beginning in February.

    Mr. Schnieder of Zap said that the company, which employees approximately 50 in the United States,  would be unveiling a number of new models in 2012, the product of the acquisition of Chinese auto manufacturer Jonway one year ago. The new gas or electric JNZ SHUTTLE van, whose development was financed in part by an $18.2 million investment from the Jonway family, will be a cornerstone in their push to find markets for fleet vehicles this year.

    “It may not be exciting, but it has a lot of potential,” he said of the seven-passenger vehicle. “I think for government use, it’s really perfect.”

    The company is also planning to make its flagship Alias vehicle available to consumers this year. The sporty, three-wheeled electric has been in development since 2007 and is expected to range in cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

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    1 Comment

    1. January 12, 2012, 12:00 pm

      by Takeanotherlook

      Eric, Did Mr S. Tell you they have been promising delivery of the Alias since 2009? And He and his company have been taking 5,000 deposits on it since Jan 2009? Can point you to an ad in other car magazines. They also said in an investor conference Nov 2011, that the Alias would be out in 3Q of 2012. Now they are saying late 2012. Will the real date be 2013 or later? How long do people have to wait to get their money back? Is ZAP paying INTEREST on these deposits?

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