Sep 15, 2011
CODA and Amports Partner to Assemble Electric Cars in Benicia
For the past several years, Mayor Patterson and the Benicia City Council have discussed trying to bring green technology companies to the Benicia Business Park. On September 12 at a press conference at Amports, it was announced that a partnership between Amports and CODA, an electric car maker based in Los Angeles, will do just that. Attending the event were members of Benicia’s Sustainability Commission, City Council members, Mayor Patterson, County Supervisor Linda Seifert, School Board member and Amports Attorney Dana Dean, representatives from State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s office and US Congressman Mike Thompson’s office, US Congressman George Miller, CODA and Amports executives and CODA workers.
Amports, an automotive processing company in Benicia’s port, will be assembling the cars at their facility, totaling 12-14,000 all-electric vehicles this year. Congressman Miller started things off by driving into the warehouse in a bright yellow CODA sedan, with Mayor Patterson in the passenger seat. Congressman Miller, Mayor Patterson and CODA CEO Philip Murtaugh spoke in turn about the importance of green technology, the practical considerations of how the cars will be assembled and the collaboration that will bring fifty new jobs to Benicia. Patterson, long-time supporter of green technology, cited Middle East volatility, fuel costs and air pollution as reasons why CODA electric vehicles are so important.
The collaboration between the two companies could very well be the impetus for other green tech companies to locate here in the future. Mario Giuliani, Benicia’s acting Economic Development Manager, said, “The synergy between sustainability and Economic Development is personified by CODA cars.” Economic Development Board Chairperson Christina Strawbridge said, “This will jump-start our economic development plan moving forward.”
A 333V, 36kWh lithium iron phosphate battery powers the vehicle. It takes six hours to fully charge from a 240V outlet but can also be charged on a standard household outlet. Fully charged, the cars have a range of 150 miles. “This is an excellent green-tech project that adds jobs to the company. The way the economy is now, it is definitely a step forward,” said Danny Nelson, Amports employee.
During a PG&E presentation at a recent City Council meeting, two concerns were noted: Potential infrastructure problems with the power grid from the extra load caused by charging electric vehicles, and the cost of installing a second electric meter at homes, an option for homeowners that could put car charging in a lower rate category. The cost of a second meter would be offset by not having to purchase gas. Benicia Councilman and Mayoral candidate Alan Schwartzman said, “It is incumbent upon all utilities to make sure the infrastructure is in place to handle the increase in the electric vehicle (EV) phenomenon beginning to unfold in our state.”
The CODA car, a 5-passenger, 4-door sedan, will sell for around $45,000, but qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit and possibly a $2,500 state rebate, according to Matt Sloustcher, CODA’s Government Relations and Sustainability Manager, as well as a 3% federal EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) tax credit, of up to $1,000, “to get homes plug-in ready.” Creature comforts include an Alpine all-in-one audio, video and navigation system, Bluetooth and easy to use touch screen, with seating and other upgrades available.