The National Truck and Equipment Association Work Truck Show in Chicago was the staging ground for Smith Electric Vehicles’ American invasion. The SEV US Corporation used last week’s event to announce its decision to manufacture, assemble and sell all-electric trucks in the United States. SEV told attendees that a number of trucking and parcel fleets have already expressed interest in Smith EVs, showing demand among business owners for cleaner trucks.
The first project for SEV US Corporation in 2009 will be mass production of the Smith Newton, the biggest battery-electric truck on the market today. The Smith Newton can carry 16,280 pounds without sacrificing performance. SEV US claims that the Smith Newton can speed up to 50 mph and operate for 100 miles before recharging its batteries. As the Smith Newton rolls off the assembly line, trucking companies will feel more comfortable with purchasing fleet vehicles that have been road tested.
Ford Motor Company plans to work with SEV US to produce a battery-electric version of its Transit Connect van. SEV US and The Tanfield Group in Great Britain are collaborating to turn the commercial van into a zero-emission vehicle. If the Transit Connect line is successful after its 2010 release, it is easy to see future collaboration between Ford and SEV US. Ford may have a foot in the door on hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles but the automaker desperately needs Smith Electric’s help with all-electric vehicles.
SEV US Corporation will begin in 2009 to use its battery-electric technology on chassis from other commercial vehicle producers. The company is based in Delaware, has a temporary headquarters in Kansas and will make roots in the United States to serve an underserved market for electric vehicles. The short-term consequence of SEV’s American operations will be the creation of new jobs for auto workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
The new venture by Smith Electric Vehicles will have the long-term effect of making electric vehicles more affordable in the United States. As commercial all-electric trucks join American fleets, SEV US will focus on scaling its technology to vans and light trucks for domestic firms. The battery-electric systems used by Smith Electric could evolve into drivetrains for sedans and power systems for commercial equipment. While the headline of this story may involve the creation of new jobs in North America, we should celebrate the evolution of EV production in the midst of an auto market meltdown.