Ford Transit Connect BEV - click above for high-res image gallery

We learned from Ford on Friday that it and Smith Electric Vehicles had mutually agreed to terminate their partnership to produce the Transit Connect BEV next year and Ford would instead go with Azure Dynamics. The Tanfield Group, parent company of Smith also released a trading statement that commented on the matter.

According to Tanfield, the projected volumes of the TC in the short to medium term did not justify the investment required at this time. There seems to be much stronger demand for the larger Newton delivery van and Tanfield has decided to commit its limited resources to growing and supporting that market segment. Smith recently started production of the Newton at a facility in Kansas City, Missouri and has a 255-unit order backlog. In the compact segment where the Transit Connect would compete, there is expected to be greater competition in the next few years with Nissan recently announcing it would be building an electric version of its new NV200 light commercial vehicle and other automakers expected to join.

[Source: Tanfield Group]
press release

Tanfield Group plc ("Tanfield", or the "Company")

30 October 2009

Trading Update


SEV US Corp to develop jointly with AM General, a prototype electric postal delivery vehicle for the US Postal Service

SEV US Corp customers win additional $4.5m Federal grant funding for 65 Smith trucks through the Clean City Program

Strong demand for Newton electric truck: SEV US Corp order book now stands 255 trucks

Tanfield confirmed as largest supplier to UK's Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme

Renewed focus on production ready medium duty electric vans and light duty trucks (Newton and Edison)

Withdrawal from electric car-derived van development : Termination of US Ford Transit Connect project

Tanfield is pleased to announce further developments from its associate company, Smith Electric Vehicles US Corp ("SEV US Corp").

SEV US Corp, together with AM General, a leading manufacturer of military and commercial vehicles, headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, USA, is developing a prototype electric version of the gasoline-powered Long Life Vehicle for the United States Postal Service ("USPS"). There are currently approximately 178,000 Long Life Vehicles in service with the USPS. AM General will manufacture the chassis and SEV US Corp will supply the electric drive train, including the motor, battery pack, electronics and ancillary systems.

Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc, said: "With AM General we combine a global leader in specialist vehicles with a world leader in electric vehicle integration. The goal is to deliver an electric vehicle that is perfect for the United States Postal Service; a vehicle that is energy efficient, cost-effective, reduces US reliance on oil and lowers greenhouse gas emissions."

As announced on 6 August 2009, SEV US Corp won $10m in grant funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE), to facilitate its growth towards volume production and to build a demonstration fleet of electric trucks. In addition, SEV US Corp customers have been awarded funding for 65 Smith Newton electric trucks, amounting to $4.5m, through the US Clean Cities Program. SEV US Corp is applying for more funding through the US Government "green vehicles" programmes.

SEV US Corp has commenced production of the Smith Newton electric truck platform at its assembly facility in Kansas City, Missouri. Appetite for the Smith Newton truck is strong in North America and SEV US Corp now has an order book of 255 trucks.

In light of the swift growth in demand for the production ready Smith Newton, SEV US Corp mutually agreed with Ford to terminate its development project with Ford of an electric car-derived van based on Transit Connect. In the short to medium term, forecast volumes did not justify the investment requirement and limited the working capital available to support the growth of Newton. SEV US Corp believes that investing in the existing Smith platforms represents a better use of its financial resources, allowing it to take full advantage of a potentially very sizeable market and to gain market traction more quickly. It was concerned that the market for electric car-derived vans would become increasingly competitive. In North America, Ford still intends to launch its own electric version of the Connect.

In other markets, the Board of Directors believes that the best strategy going forward for the Company is to focus on preserving and enhancing Tanfield's market-leading position in the medium-duty commercial vehicle sector, through its many variants of Newton truck and Edison van platforms. Tanfield remains Ford of Europe's official collaborator on commercial electric vehicles, initially focused solely on the Ford Transit platform, which is marketed as the Smith Edison.

Whilst consolidating its market-lead position in this sector, Tanfield continues to pursue an order for the delivery of over 50 Smith Edison vans with a leading UK retailer. Additionally, Tanfield is now confirmed as the largest supplier to Phase One of the UK Government's Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme. Tanfield will supply a total of 57 Smith Edison vans in the first phase.

Darren Kell added:

"Tanfield is gaining real traction with its core products in the electric van and truck sectors across the world"

d by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

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