From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published December 18, 2007 12:38 PM

Major US electric vehicle manufacturing plant announced

Tyne & Wear, UK - Smith Electric Vehicles, the world's largest manufacturer of road-going electric vans and trucks, is to establish a major production facility in the USA.The factory will have the capacity to produce up to 10,000 zero emission vehicles per year, from 2010.

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Smith manufactures a range of highway electric vehicles, ranging from 7,000lbs vans to 25,000lbs trucks. With a top speed of 50mph, fast acceleration and a range on one battery charge of up to 150 miles, they are deployed largely in urban delivery applications, in sectors including mail and parcel, groceries, retail/distribution and utilities.

Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc, the company that owns Smith Electric, said: "Electric vehicles offer a next-generation automotive industry for America. Ten thousand vehicles a year is a substantial commitment, but we believe that is just the start. Our initial research shows that there is an addressable market in the USA of around 200,000 units a year for our commercial electric vehicles."

Smith Electric already has a 70,000sq ft facility in Fresno, CA, which has the capacity to produce 1,000 vehicles next year. It has a 250,000sq ft facility in the UK which has headroom for 1,500 vehicles in 2008, but the company is also looking for a larger UK base to take this up to 5,000 vehicles per annum, for the UK and Europe.Smith Electric launched its 2nd generation electric vehicles, Edison and Newton, earlier this year and is on course to ship 250 units in 2007.

Customers already signed up in the UK include DHL, Starbucks, the Royal Mail, TK Maxx, and CEVA Logistics, plus many household names yet to be announced.The new US factory, which Mr Kell said could be sited anywhere in North America, would require up to a 300 acre site, including a 500,000sq ft assembly facility, test track and space for rolling stock.

The move would create at least 500 jobs."We have opened dialogue with local government in a number of areas across the United States," he said. "The response has been extremely positive and we will be moving forward with an identified location in early 2008."

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