• Dec 4, 2012
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles are working together to create an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago. Smith Electric Vehicles was drawn to the city by the mayor's voucher system designed to accelerate conversion from diesel to zero-emission electric vehicles, a large number of fleets that are interested in going electric and development incentives offered to Smith. Smith is saying it will create "hundreds of direct and indirect jobs" there.

The Chicago Department of Transportation has a $15-million incentive program set up to encourage companies to modernize their fleets, converting some to electric power. The initial $15 million for this program is funded by resources from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program. It provides vouchers to assist companies in reducing their conversion costs. Through its program and similar federal incentive programs, Chicago has helped deploy 404 cleaner vehicles, mainly compressed natural gas vehicles, along with 202 electric vehicle charging stations. Chicago has been committed for a while to bringing electrified vehicles and a charging infrastructure to the area.

Mayor Emanuel says the Smith partnership is a smart way to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and to boost the already rapidly growing battery and electric vehicle sector in the city. As former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Emanuel was involved in pushing for policies that integrated job creation with environmental concerns and energy security.

This will be the third US city where Smith has locations set up, including its headquarters in Kansas City, MO, and a manufacturing facility in New York City. Smith has been looking for ways to grow its capital investments and audience. Not long ago, the company was looking to go public on the Nasdaq exchange, but has canceled that plan. New owners bought the decades-old company from its UK-based parent company in 2011.

Smith has done an impressive job of breaking into the electrified fleet market. Customers include Frito-Lay, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury's, Coca-Cola, DHL and the US military. In addition to the deal with the city of Chicago, Smith announced that FedEx Express is adding 100 Smith vehicles in the US, Europe and Asia, and that Coca-Cola's pilot deployment of Smith vehicles has been successful enough that additional EVs will be purchased in 2013.
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MAYOR EMANUEL ANNOUNCES SMITH ELECTRIC VEHICLES TO OPEN MANUFACTURING FACILITY IN CHICAGO
  • Electric Vehicle Manufacturer Will Bring Hundreds of Jobs in the City; City Will Offer Comprehensive Incentive Program to Support Vehicle Adoption;
  • Major Step Forward as Chicago's Electric Vehicle and Battery Sector Grows
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles announced today that Smith will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago, creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and boosting the already rapidly growing battery and electric vehicle sector in the City. Smith's decision to locate a facility in Chicago is 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.

"I'm proud to welcome another growing company with a great mission to Chicago. Soon hundreds of Chicagoans will be able to put their skills to use providing businesses worldwide with high-quality, zero-emission, American-made vehicles," said Mayor Emanuel. "Smith Electric Vehicles is an innovative company in a forward-looking, essential industry that is a central part of Chicago's economic future."

Smith is one of the world's leading manufacturers of all-electric commercial vehicles, which are zero-emission and less expensive to own and operate when compared with traditional diesel trucks. The company produces 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 U.S. Military.

Chicago will be Smith's third location in the United States, joining their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City.

Additionally, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), under the Mayor's leadership, has announced a comprehensive, $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 $15M 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. These vehicles and stations have displaced 200,000 barrels of oil and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2,850 tons.

"A mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption," said Smith CEO Bryan Hansel. "Chicago's location, commitment to adoption in municipal fleets, concentration of commercial vehicles, talented workforce and importance to the global business community make it a perfect choice to grow our company and this industry. The leadership being shown with the mayor's CDOT voucher program is a prime example of how Chicago is creating the template for a new energy city."

In addition to the announcement of the manufacturing facility, Smith provided an update today on two of its global fleet customers. FedEx Express has initiated the deployment of 100 Smith vehicles in the U.S., adding to the electric vehicles already in service throughout the company's global fleet.

"FedEx continually works toward goals to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions of its global vehicle fleet in big and small ways," said Dennis Beal, Vice President of Global Vehicles at FedEx Express. "Electric vehicles are often conducive to operate on routes in urban environments like Chicago, where FedEx introduced the first purpose-built all-electric parcel delivery trucks in the United States in 2010."

Coca-Cola's pilot deployment of Smith Electric Vehicles has been successful. The Company plans to deploy additional electric vehicles in 2013.

"These electric vehicles meet our delivery needs while significantly reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions," commented Steven Saltzgiver, director of fleet operations, Coca-Cola Refreshments. "Mayor Emanuel's incentive program is evidence of his commitment to building a more sustainable Chicago. We are proud to support this effort by deploying electric vehicles in Chicago as part of Coca-Cola's expanding alternative fuel vehicle fleet."

Smith Electric Vehicles is currently considering locations for its manufacturing facility in conjunction with City officials. The company expects to begin hiring efforts immediately and announce this new location when the incentive and development packages tied to the site are complete.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Michael
      • 2 Days Ago
      Apparently cost is no object when you have government funding behind you. Are there any more expensive places to build these trucks than NYC and Chicago?
        Breconeer
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Michael
        Possibly not. But if it works for Chicago and New York, it will surely prompt a belief that it can happen anywhere - and that is likely to be very useful in swinging other states and cities into considering that their own all-electric future is achievable and worth pursuing. I congratulate the Mayor of Chicago for showing the kind of initiative that will help keep the US as a contender in a transportation future that will otherwise be dominated by China, and still might if Americans continue to cling to their (taxpayer assisted) oilbased obsessions.
          Nick
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Breconeer
          Marcopolo Mexico's economy is mostly controlled by drug cartels, their entire country is already in shambles and it will keep getting worse. I predict Mexico will either become a police state with cops at every street corner, or there will be an internal war.
          EZEE
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Breconeer
          @marco You mean, 'help to recent skyrocketing hyper inflation and high interest rates.' Right now interest rates are near zero, but then we are buying our own debt, so the extra money wold help to keep the real crash from coming, or, delay it. Somehow I would think they would say, 'look at this extra money we have now. Lets use it for more studies on shrimp on treadmills, the penis sizes of gay men, and male prostitution in ho chi min city (all real studies). The 5 cent gas tax would be more effective than what they are proposing. When I hear 'let the taxes rise on the rich, and we will see $1.6 trillion in new revenue in the next 10 years' I think, 'alrighty then. That is $160 billion a year, and our deficit is $1.3 trillion. That takes us down to $1.14 trillion per year. Now what? And all of the spending cuts are to be discussed later, with an additional $50 billion being proposed for 'stimulus.' Essentially meaning that out net benefit of that increase would now be (round up a bit) $110 billion a year (due to base line budgeting that no one ever reports on, the $50 billion would be spent every single year), which means out deficit is $1.19 trillion a year. We are so screwed, and we used to have such a nice country. Little factoid marco will now but the rest of you won't. Britain's conservative government passed an I crease on millionaires. A tax to about 50%. Now here is the shocking (SHOCKING) thing. The number of millionaires went from 16,000 to 6,000, and the government took in less money than they had before the tax increase! Why, O, why could no one have predicted that sort of thing? Oh wait.... We are so screwed.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Breconeer
          @ Ezee and EVnerdGene, Yes, unfortunately the idea of tax the rich, never works. It just leads to more efficient tax planning, and a flight of invested capital to friendlier tax climes. Ezee is quite correct, more attention must be paid to government waste, and civil servant empire building. However, I have always been attracted to special purpose Taxes, that can't be used for any purpose than that nominated, and contain sunset clauses. These are relatively popular taxes, and relieve the politicians of the burden of ideology. People can see the purpose of the tax, and monitor it's effectiveness. The good news for the US is three dimensional manufacturing technology, the bad news is Mexico, is running out of Oil. In a nation where Oil is over 50% of the economy, and the society is chaotic, this will be a new security crisis for the US.
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Breconeer
          "we are so screwed" Yeah, back in the fifties the Russians couldn't have even dreamed of a scheme to destroy this country as fast as this bunch in WDC. Rahm Emanuel? Isn't this the Whitehouse guy that said; "never let a good crisis go to waste"? I really think they are looking for an even bigger crisis so they can slip-in some drastic changes. We can only imagine what they will be. Nationalizing all oil and energy companies. Collecting all those guns that kill people - especially revenuers. Completely rewrite to Constitution so it would be more modernized - it will be 60, 589 pages long. Watchout; we will have a crisis within the next four years.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Breconeer
          @ Breconeer I agree. Chicago is a major transport hub, with a great deal of demand for large delivery vehicles. I'm not sure about your remark as to the "tax payer assisted " oil based..etc. The oil industry is America's largest taxpayer. If the US government increased gasoline and diesel pump tax, by say 5%. The US consumes nearly 180 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel per year. Or over 600 billion annually. 5 % increase in the pump price, would not significantly damage the US economy, but it would raise $30 million dollars annually. Because of the unique daily collection nature of the tax, this would allow the US to retire over $200 billion debt annually, This in turn would decrease US interest rates, and removing the obligation to raise new debt.
      • 2 Days Ago
      I have not been able to find out how the recharge works with these electric vehicles. I would think the best arrangement would be to replace the batteries with fully charged ones to keep the trucks moving. The time to recharge is always a slow process and down time hurts the value of a work vehicle. If the batteries are easily replaced than the logistics can be worked out. And replacement batteries can arrive in a just in time bases to keep the trucks moving. If the batteries are not easily replaced there will be problems. Tesla figured that out.
      Dave
      • 2 Days Ago
      I don't know much about the air quality in Chicago, but I'm sure that clean air has a value. The question is - will the $15,000,000 that Chicago is spending actually give Chicago $15,000,000 worth of clean air? Or would the money be better spent elsewhere? (cleaning up power plants or heating systems or industry or trains or Great Lakes shipping) I hope that the people of Chicago get their money's worth. Otherwise, I hope they boot the idiot who came up with the idea out of office.