BENiCIA -- A much-heralded electric car assembly plant in Solano County sputtered and died quietly earlier this year when Coda Automotive declared bankruptcy.
The Santa Monica electric car maker closed its doors 14 months after opening the assembly plant in partnership with local manufacturer Amports Inc. in September of 2011.
The plant, lauded by city and county officials as the beginning of green industry moving into the area, was to have hired 50 local workers to do the final assembly on 10,000-14,000 zero-emission vehicles expected to roll off the line within a year.
The fate -- and even the number -- of assembly line workers who were hired by Amports to work on the Coda cars, is unknown.
Amports, under a non-disclosure agreement, had no comment on the closure, although a Coda spokesman responded to a request for comment by saying the company “has suspended automotive production as it reviews strategic options to bolster its financing. Our desire is to secure financing that enables us to become fully operational.”
Coda filed for Chapter 11 restructuring in February.
According to Benicia Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani, Coda could return to the city “if their financial viability improves,” but that appears unlikely.
A notice on Coda’s website stated that Coda is getting out of the vehicle manufacturing space entirely and focusing on a peripheral business in battery storage that it started a couple of years ago.
“Focusing on the company’s energy storage business presents the best opportunity moving forward,” said Phil Murtaugh, Chief Executive Officer, CODA Holdings, Inc., in a statement.
Coda had raised over $200 million in investment funding to manufacture the cars, which would be built in China and sent, via container ship and truck to Benicia, where major drive-train components -- including Coda’s 12-volt lithium-ion battery -- will be installed by Amports.
The vehicles had a sticker price of $37,000.
The county had hoped to showcase the assembly plant as a harbinger of green industry in the area.
At the plant’s opening it was hailed as a sign of Benicia’s transition from petrochemical to alternative-energy industries.