Stimulus Could Bring 600 Jobs To Coda Battery Systems In Enfield

A former Enfield toy factory could be spitting out batteries for a new electric car by late next year, if enough federal stimulus money finds its way to Connecticut.

Coda Battery Systems, a joint venture of Yardney Technical Products of Stonington and Coda Automotive of California, confirmed Thursday that it has a tentative deal to lease space in a 585,000-square-foot factory on the former Lego Systems campus, which the Danish toy company sold in early 2007.

Within four years the plant could employ as many as 600 workers and produce 9,000 lithium ion batteries annually, executives with the venture said Thursday.

All these plans hinge on Coda's application for more than $38 million in federal economic stimulus money, part of about $2 billion meant to encourage an electric car industry in the U.S.

Yardney also is negotiating for millions in additional financial assistance from the state. The Department of Energy is expected to make awards by the end of July, according to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. Courtney's district includes Enfield and Stonington.

Coda executives and the state Department of Economic and Community Development would not comment on the negotiations, but an aide in Courtney's Washington office said the state is considering $11 million in grants and tax incentives. A DECD spokesman said the state has not made a commitment.

Coda, of Santa Monica, Calif., plans to begin selling a four-door, all-electric sedan on the Internet later this year, delivering the first units next year only in California. The car, which will travel 90 miles to 120 miles a charge, will sell for $45,000, according to Steven M. "Mac" Heller, a Greenwich resident who is co-chairman of Coda's board of directors. Federal incentives could lower the price.

It is not clear whether Coda Battery Systems will proceed in Enfield if the government offers less than $38 million. Vincent Yevoli Jr., Yardney's president, would not cite a minimum amount necessary. He said Coda is "banking" on the full amount. The factory needs "some serious retrofitting," he said.