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Smith Electric Vehicles US Selects Kansas City for Electric Truck Assembly Plant; Newton Model to Be First

The SEV US Newton. Click to enlarge.

Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation (SEV US) has selected Kansas City, Missouri as the site for its US assembly plant. (Earlier post.) The new assembly plant will be located at a portion of an airline overhaul base at Kansas City International (KCI) Airport and is expected to create 120 jobs by 2010. Production of the first zero-emission commercial trucks is scheduled to begin third quarter of 2009.

SEV US Corp will initially focus its production on battery-electric-powered vehicles for depot-based predictable-route delivery fleets. The first truck model produced will be the Smith Newton—the world’s largest battery-electric-powered truck. It has a top speed of up to 50 mph, a range on one battery charge in excess of 100 miles and a payload of up to 16,280 lbs. SEV US Corp will utilize the Enova 120 kW P120 drive system for the Newton, a proven solution currently being used by Smith in Europe, and a lithium-ion iron phosphate battery pack.

Through its UK partner, The Tanfield Group Plc, SEV US Corp is also working with Ford Motor Company to electrify the Ford Transit Connect as a BEV (battery electric vehicle) light-duty van scheduled for production in 2010. In addition to its partnership agreement with Ford on the Transit Connect, SEV US Corp will expand its zero-emission product line to include other van and light truck models based on demand.

We feel the greatest opportunity to have a major impact on the electric vehicle industry is through fleet operators who utilize commercial vehicles in a depot-based delivery model. As more truck fleets adopt this technology, it will drive advancements in battery technology, drive down manufacturing costs, and form the foundation of a US-based supply chain that, over time will also significantly reduce the cost of commercial electric vehicles. This will make them a natural choice for fleet managers with a depot-based delivery model.

—Bryan Hansel, chief executive officer SEV US Corp.

The SEV US decision to locate the plant in Kansas City represents an initial investment of $10 million in the metro area. The KCI overhaul base was selected for the new assembly plant because of its open configuration and immediate availability. The assembly plant will occupy 80,000 square feet at the overhaul base at start-up and will scale up based on demand. SEV US Corp is also leasing 8,600 square feet of office space at the Ambassador Building at KCI. The company will receive close to $3 million in job training funds and other incentives from the state of Missouri and Kansas City.

SEV US says that it has already received a strong expression of interest from fleet operators and as a result, the company is building a highly scalable assembly operation and supply chain to serve this emerging market. SEV US Corp will begin production using chassis from multiple vehicle manufacturers. Initial customers will include Canteen Vending Services, Frito-Lay North America, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

SEV US Corp is a privately held company and is owned by US investors and The Tanfield Group Plc, based in the United Kingdom. Tanfield is also the parent company of Smith Electric Vehicles, the leading manufacturer of zero-emission battery-electric commercial vehicles in Europe since the 1920s. Smith has produced the Newton truck in Europe for more than three years and has sold vehicles to major fleet operators in sectors such as mail and parcel delivery, logistics, retail, highway maintenance and airports.


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