BENICIA -- The Bay Area's burgeoning electric car industry soon may be revving up in Benicia.

Officials from Amports Inc. and startup Coda Automotive Inc. confirmed Tuesday that the two are close to a deal to open a final assembly plant in Benicia.

The Santa Monica company also has been in talks with Los Angeles city officials to open a Southern California plant -- a long-term vision that's still on the table, a company spokesman said.

In the meantime, though, Coda and Amports -- which operates an automotive processing services company on 645 acres near the Port of Benicia -- are expected to announce a final deal next month.

Benicia would become the latest Bay Area city ramping up to build electric cars. Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors Inc. earlier this year announced it would open an assembly plant in Fremont.

Once the Benicia operation is up and running it could generate about 100 jobs, with 14,000 cars expected to roll through next year.

City officials, who have not been involved in the talks, say they are excited about the jobs and becoming an electric car hub.

"It would be a very significant coup to lure an industry that is on the forefront of green manufacturing," Benicia Economic Development Director Amalia Lorentz said. "We do have green companies, but this would be a high-profile one."


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Coda Vice President Forrest Beanum said the company plans to ship nearly finished cars from China to the Bay Area, where major drive-train and safety components will be added.

The cars are expected to go 90 to 120 miles on a single charge. Based on a five seat gasoline-powered sedan by Chinese carmaker Hafei Motors, the sedans are aimed at middle-class buyers, Beanum said.

"We haven't formally announced pricing, but after federal tax rebates and incentives, it will probably be in the low 'thirties,' " Beanum said.

Beanum said the company looked at the Bay Area in addition to Los Angeles as a place to grow because of the Port of Oakland and access to major transportation corridors.

Beanum added that the pending Benicia deal would be "temporary," but declined to discuss details. He said the company is still considering opening a Los Angeles-area manufacturing facility in the future.

Amports Senior Vice President of Operations Jim Triplett, however, said he is optimistic Coda will stay in Benicia for at least three years.

"We don't see it as a temporary deal," Triplett said. "Our intention is to open a facility to do final assembly of these cars and we expect to have a term of contract that would be in line with industry norms."

Triplett said the companies have been in negotiations for several months and "they have given us a preliminary indication that we are their select location and we are working out the contract details."

"I think what this deal represents is a focus on new green technologies and the energy that industry is putting into capturing those," Triplett added.

Lorentz emphasized that the deal is not yet final.

"We don't want to count our chickens before they hatch," the city official said.

"Hopefully," she added, "this will create some buzz and put us on the radar for companies that weren't familiar with Benicia before."

For more information about Coda, go online to www.codaautomotive.com.