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Coda Battery Systems Wants U.S. Taxpayer Funds for Chinese Electric Car Imports

Company submits proposal to the Department of Energy to build a U.S. battery factory to help import a Chinese EV.

by on Jun.09, 2009

Coda Electric Sedan

Chinese maker Hafei will build the electric car.

The list of companies lining up for taxpayer dollars from  the U.S. Department of Energy increased today as  Coda Battery Systems LLC announced it had applied under a DOE stimulus grant program for funding to build a manufacturing facility in Enfield, Connecticut. The Coda Battery facility expects to employ 600 U.S. workers.

Coda Battery Systems is itself a joint-venture between Connecticut-based Yardney Technical Products, Incorporated and California-based Coda Automotive. The controversial part of the deal comes from Coda, which was just launched this month.

Coda says it will import to California by the fall of 2010 a four-door, five-passenger electric sedan built it manufacturing partner, Hafei, a state-owned Chinese manufacturer of automobiles and airplanes.

More Promises of Chinese Cars

Critics note that many plans for the importation of Chinese vehicles have been announced, but none have appeared thus far, as delays are always incurred.  It was not immediately clear how the Department of Energy would view the grant application. Thus far no such grants have been approved.

At first, the sedan will be sold with a battery system from a joint venture between Coda Automotive and Chinese-based Tianjin Lishen Battery Company, a large supplier of lithium-ion batteries. If the U.S. plant appears, batteries from it would be substituted to power the Chinese car.

Even here taxpayer subsidies would go the Chinese, since Coda intends to make Lishen part of the U.S. manufacturing joint venture.

“The partnership was a natural fit,” said Kevin Czinger, President and CEO, Coda Automotive. “We are eager to apply our respective strengths to facilitate the rapid advancement of an electric vehicle industry built on the vast skills and traditions of U.S. workers.”

Yardney is a supplier to the of battery systems to the U.S. military and other government agencies.

“This electric vehicle venture is a major strategic step for Yardney,” said Vince Yevoli, president, Yardney. “We have been working on battery technology research specifically for hybrid and electric vehicle applications for years.”

“The Connecticut Economic Development team has provided invaluable assistance on the Federal grant application,” Yevoli noted. “Senator Dodd and Congressman Courtney are providing full support as always.”

The Dodd AIG Connection

Senator Dodd has come under heavy attack for allowing taxpayer funds to go towards millions of dollars of executive bonuses at bankrupt AIG, which is also headquartered in Connecticut. After initially and repeatedly denying that he had known about this blatant misuse of funds, Dodd was forced to admit that his own Senate staff had inserted the language that made it permissible to do so.

Coda says its Chinese sedan will be available for $45,000, or only about $35,000 after including a taxpayer funded $7,500 Federal tax credit and additional California state incentives.

California is struggling with a $24 billion deficit. The, well, current federal deficit is $1.8 trillion this year and still climbing.

The sedan will be powered by a 333V lithium-ion battery with a claimed range of 90 to 120 miles, depending on individual driving habits. An onboard charger plugs into any 110 or 220 volt standard outlet and is said to complete a full charge in less than six hours at a 220 volts.

We will believe it, when we test it.

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