Smith Electric Vehicles is making moves. Following a formal IPO submission to the SEC (complete with many pretty color pictures), the electric truck manufacturer announced it will build the all-electric trucks in a most unlikely place: New York City. Specifically, the Bronx.

Smith expects to create up to 100 jobs there to build the Newton by the time production starts in the second half of 2012. The truck has a range of up to 150 miles and Smith says it has, "an average annual operating cost that is one-third to one-half that of conventional diesel trucks with comparable gross vehicle weights." Smith is also happy to mention state plug-in incentive "vouchers of up to $20,000 per vehicle," but it doesn't list prices for the Newton on its website (at least, not that we could find). The truck is available with different-size battery packs. The New York location will be Smith's second in the U.S., and "will not affect production or job levels at Smith's headquarters in Kansas City, MO." Smith has already sold trucks to the U.S. Marines, Staples, AT&T and more.

As for that IPO, Smith is looking to raise $125 million. That is ambitious, especially considering that the company missed its 2011 sales targets. It originally said it would sell 1,000 vehicles this year, but the company's SEC filing clearly states that, "Over the twelve months ended September 30, 2011, we sold 320 vehicles, and as of October 31, 2011 we have an order backlog of 120 vehicles and have allocated nearly all of our estimated 540 production slots through July 2012." So, not quite 1,000, but also not quite zero.
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Smith Electric Vehicles to Build All-Electric Trucks in New York City, Expects to Create up to 100 Jobs

New Multi-Year New York State Commercial EV Program Offers Purchase Incentives for Fleets to Go Electric

(KANSAS CITY, MO.) – November 15, 2011 – Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. (Smith), a leader in all-electric commercial vehicles, today announced that the company will expand its U.S. operations by adding a manufacturing facility in New York State, creating up to 100 new direct local jobs. Smith will manufacture the zero-emission Newton™, its all-electric medium duty vehicle with a range of up to 150 miles and an average annual operating cost that is one-third to one-half that of conventional diesel trucks with comparable gross vehicle weights (GVWs), at the new facility beginning in 2012. A package of city and state incentives of approximately $11 million will augment Smith's private investment.

Also today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the development of a federally-funded, multi-year commercial electric vehicle (EV) buyer incentive program to accelerate adoption of commercial EVs and allow for strategic fleet conversion throughout New York State. The program, with an expected run of five years, has been specifically tailored to help companies in New York State convert significant portions of their fleets as a result of the ability to plan with vouchers available over multiple years. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has committed $10 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding for the first year, which will be offered in the form of vouchers of up to $20,000 per vehicle. The program will be managed by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and will offer voucher incentives to the purchasers of any qualified all-electric vehicle over 10,000 pounds GVW - regardless of manufacturer. The Smith Newton qualifies for this program.

"This expansion reflects an important step in executing Smith's localized assembly, sales and service strategy," commented Bryan Hansel, CEO and chairman of Smith. "Our approach creates jobs, provides Smith customers with more localized support and significantly reduces the costs associated with shipping completed vehicles to our customers. We applaud the governor's leadership and that of the numerous state and local officials who have come together to support a program that encourages fleets to accelerate their conversion from diesel to electric."

"New York has shown tremendous leadership at the borough, city and state level in paving the way for commercial fleet electrification," said Sam Ori, director of policy for the Electrification Coalition, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group that promotes deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale. "This multi-year commercial EV incentive program is a strong example of the state's commitment to accelerate deployment of this technology, which is critical for reducing U.S. oil dependence and enhancing long-term national and economic security."
"Coca-Cola is proud to partner with Smith Electric Vehicles in making our delivery fleet more efficient," commented Steven Saltzgiver, director of fleet operations, Coca-Cola Refreshments. "Smith's presence in New York City, coupled with the state's incentive program, will help us accelerate conversion in New York as we continue to build a more efficient and environmentally-friendly Coke fleet."

The new facility – Smith's second U.S. manufacturing, sales and service center – will not affect production or job levels at Smith's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. The first Newton vehicles are planned for production in New York in the second half of 2012.

About Smith Electric Vehicles
Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. (www.smithelectric.com) develops, produces and sells zero-emission commercial electric vehicles that are designed to be an alternative to traditional diesel trucks, providing higher efficiency and lower total cost of ownership. Smith's vehicle designs leverage more than 80 years of market knowledge from selling and servicing electric vehicles in the United Kingdom. Smith Electric Vehicles produces the Newton™ and the Edison™. The company operates manufacturing facilities in Kansas City, Mo., and outside of Newcastle, U.K.


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  • 22 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've always like Smith as a company. Several times they looked like disappearing, but with assistance from Ford, they have stayed the course. It's sad to see Smith leave the UK for the US, but Smith has shifted to where they are appreciated! I look forward to the brands continuing success.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I should have probably declared that I was a Tanfield shareholder. I will buy shares in the new IPO.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I have wondered that with today's technology, if larger trucks and buses are better suited for electric drive trains. More capacity for the weight of the batteries, commercial trucks and buses in cities have set routes and known daily mileages, and of course, the torque with electrics...also, once it is quitting time, they can spend as much time as needed on a charger, until the next day.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          @Ezee, You are quite right. The best application for EV's is the light to medium delivery vehicle market. In this market the economic advantages can become a priority in the buying decision.
      Breconeer
      • 3 Years Ago
      The SMITH name used to be written across the front, below the windscreen. That has now been shifted down near the fender and SMITH'S new 'flying tiger' logo has taken its place.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      'Staples has ordered 41 trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles of Kansas City, Mo., and will start receiving them in January. There is "a real strong chance we'll make a second order for 40," Mr. Payette said. The trucks, which have a top speed of about 50 mph and can carry 16,000 pounds, cost about $30,000 more than a diesel, but Staples expects to recover that expense in 3.3 years because of the savings inherent in the electric models, Mr. Payette said. Staples said the annual maintenance cost of a diesel delivery truck is about $2,700 in most years, including oil, transmission fluid, filters and belts. For an electric truck—which has no transmission and needs no fluids, filters or belts—the cost is about $250. And since it costs much more to maintain an internal-combustion delivery truck than a car, the cost savings for truck fleets is greater than for consumers buying an electric model. One big savings comes in brakes. Because electric trucks use "regenerative" braking, which returns some of the force of stopping to the batteries in the form of electricity, the brakes don't wear out as fast. That means the brakes last four or five years, not one or two, before they need a $1,100 repair. Electric trucks also don't need the urea exhaust-cleaning system of diesels, which costs about $700 a year to maintain. And electric motors are far less complex than diesel engines, last much longer and the training required to work on them is minimal, Mr. Payette said. On top of this, Staples says it will save each year roughly $6,500 in fuel costs per electric vehicle over a diesel model. Each of Staples's electric delivery trucks will run a daily route of under 70 miles and then come back to be recharged at night. In addition, since its nonelectric trucks get about 10 miles per gallon, the savings in fuel costs with an electric is more dramatic that it is for consumers buying an electric car. On the flip side, electric trucks cost substantially more. A Smith model with a 50-mile battery range and basic equipment would go for about $90,000, compared with about $60,000 for a diesel model, Smith Electric said. Mr. Payette declined to say what Staples is paying for models with a 100-mile range. Add it all up and Staples expects to save nearly $60,000 over the 10-year life of an electric truck over a diesel model. One impediment to wider adoption of electric trucks: few finance companies offer leases on them. That's because finance companies are unsure about how to value the lease "residual," a truck's worth after a few years of use. Many large companies, including Staples, prefer to lease trucks to avoid the large capital requirements of an outright purchase, Mr. Payette said.' http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704584804575644773552573304.html
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        And your article came from the wall street journal! Horror.... The missing item in that article is the good will established as well. Silent trucks...paint them green, or have some sort of logo to advertise that they are electric...staples gets to thump their chests about their caring, opposed to the competition. And, considering the noise of the city, people will appreciate the silence as well. The relatively short break even time also means that if the solid state batteries, or other technology comes through, staples will not but hurt by more efficient vehicles appearing.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      "...the electric truck manufacturer announced it will build the all-electric trucks in a most unlikely place: New York City" If they are planning to continue to buy chassis from the Czech republic, I suspect that they would be shipped into New York / New Jersey. And, most probably, there are many short routes available in and around NYC.
        lne937s
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        It is really more assembly than production, as most of the parts are coming from elsewhere. The Chassis still are coming from Avia in the Czech Republic. Batteries come from elsewhere. However, it is a good start. Picking something close to port for assembly within a major market for the vehicles (as NYC has 30mph speed limits and short delivery distances) makes sense. If the assembly isn't to space or labor intensive, putting it together in BX makes more sense than shipping everything across the country then shipping it back to NYC. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-15/smith-targets-small-customers-with-new-york-electric-truck-plant.html And this may end up creating even more jobs in the area, as they are looking to put the electric school bus factory nearby too: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/smith-electric-to-build-trucks-in-the-bronx/
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lne937s
          Thanks for the links. The batteries then work out at $625kwh to the final customer. That explains the Renault lease prices. They are somewhat ahead of others and have cut the margin, so are leasing them out at a price which implies around $400kwh. Happy days!
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lne937s
          @DaveMart If they are down to $400/KWH, that is pretty good for an automotive quality battery system. Once things are down to around $300/KWH (and gas prices creep up to the $5 to $7/gallon range), I think the EV market will start to get rolling.
        GR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Regardless, it's good to see more production and/or assembly jobs being created in the US, especially in the EV market.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rode my bicycle into NYC (and back, later) from Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey once. When I got where I was going in Manhattan (only 13 or so miles later), I took a shower and watched the soot run off my body and down the drain. NYC could benefit greatly from getting rid of diesel trucks (although thats only part of the problem, I'm sure). BEVs for short hauls and FCEVs for long hauls can't come soon enough.
        Dave R
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Gross - now imagine how much soot ended up in your lungs! Makes one want to wear a respirator... Not just NYC could benefit from EV trucks - even here in California diesels are a huge polluter along any road. 9 times out of 10 if you smell a stinky vehicle it's either a local delivery truck (hi UPS/FedEx) or a freight truck. DPFs should be mandatory. The other 10% are motorcycles, cars who have obviously modified their emissions equipment, or cars built before modern emissions requirements.
        lne937s
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        I remember when they were removing some bricks from my office building in Manhattan. For the first five years I worked here, I thought that it was a black building- but it is actually a yellow brick building covered in a thick layer of tar-like soot. New York is one best environmental performers on a per capita basis in the country. We have the highest mass transit adoption, with most of it being electric subway and commuter rail. Our apartments tend to be much more efficient than detatched houses. Air quality standards are pretty strict (one of the reasons it is hard to get good barbecue). Many of our offices are heated with steam from CHP plants, etc. But the concentration of so many people in such a small area makes you aware of how bad emissions from human activity really are.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lne937s
          I saw a nifty video where there were graffiti artists. But instead of painting to do their graffiti, and Issuing off the building owner, they ran out with pressure washers and washed the graffiti into the dirt. Graffiti even a right winger can agree with! : D
      Breconeer
      • 3 Years Ago
      This could be the most significant EV ipo since Tesla came to market. Smith isn't some newcomer clambering aboard the green bandwagon with untested technology - they've been building roadgoing electric delivery vehicles in the UK since 1920. Tens of thousands of them. They used to be powered by lead-acid batteries, and were typically used for doorstep delivery of bottled milk to households all over Britain. Smith know how to build and service EVs. Many of them have stayed on the road working day in day out for 20-30 years. In 2004 Smith got bought by Tanfield Group, a small UK engineering company, who developed and brought to market a new range of electric trucks and vans for the 21st century market. Fleet owners in the UK (and one or two in Europe) have been buying and using them since 2006. In 2009 they set up a US offshoot, which has since bought the rest of Smith from its UK owner (Tanfield Group still hold a minority stake, but that's expected to get wholly or partly sold off during the Nasdaq ipo).
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Breconeer
        Great history lesson Bre...thank you!
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Breconeer
        "This could be the most significant EV ipo since Tesla came to market" Hopefully, you will be proved correct!
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Smith deserves credit for pushing hard on this market segment while no one else would touch it. That said, if oil prices creep ever higher I have a feeling that a lot of other people are gonna jump in a compete with them. Nissan is already on the way.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        For limited range, it almost sounds like a no brainer. Diesel fuel, with the various odd tax schemes (different colors so the tax man knows if you put THE RIGHT fuel, with the right tax, in your tanks), does not offer much when looking at a city application. If I had a company with primarily city deliveries, I would have to look at this thing. Also, paint them green, and maybe if I had night time delivery, push the fact that this won't wake everyone up with a noisy engine. Get my green cred and 'caring' cred all at once.
      Mike
      • 3 Years Ago
      I saw one of these Smith trucks on the road in Silicon Valley. It was a Lays delivery truck, driving away from a Safeway store. It had the older, plainer looking front panel between the headlights with larger Smith lettering. I would not have given it another look but for this article the day before. It did have prominent Plug In Electric Vehicle graphics like the Coca-Cola truck pictured.
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