Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles announced that Smith will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago. Smith said its decision to locate a facility in Chicago was influenced by the Mayor’s innovative voucher system created to accelerate the conversion from diesel to zero-emission, all-electric commercial vehicles, the large number of fleets interested in vehicle electrification, and the development incentives made available to Smith.
Chicago will be Smith’s third location in the United States, joining the headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City.
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced a $15-million incentive program that will encourage companies and individuals to modernize their fleets and convert to electric vehicles. The first of its kind in the US, this plan rewards fleets on an increasing scale for replacing their most diesel-consuming vehicles.
The program’s initial $15 million is funded by resources from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program and will provide vouchers to assist companies in reducing the costs of converting their vehicles to electric. The City is also considering additional incentives such as preferential loading zones and decreased registration costs to complement the voucher program.
Fleets can stack the State of Illinois’ Alternative Fuel Vehicle and EV Charging Station Rebates on top of the City’s incentive.
Through similar federally funded incentive programs, the City has helped deploy 404 cleaner vehicles, including 159 compressed natural gas (CNG) livery/taxi vehicles and 223 alternative fuel stations, including 17 CNG and 202 electric vehicle charging stations—the densest network of any major city.
Smith produces electric trucks for multiple industries, including food & beverage, utility, telecommunications, retail, grocery, parcel and postal delivery, school transportation, military and government. Smith’s customers include many of the world’s largest fleet operators, including PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the US Military.
In addition to the announcement of the manufacturing facility, Smith provided an update on two of its global fleet customers. FedEx Express has initiated the deployment of 100 Smith vehicles in the US, Europe and Asia, adding to the electric vehicles already in service throughout the company’s global fleet. Coca-Cola’s pilot deployment of Smith Electric Vehicles has been successful. The Company plans to deploy additional electric vehicles in 2013.