Kansas City, Missouri – Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. has announced it plans to assemble all-electric, zero-emission commercial vehicles in Kansas City. The new plant will be located at an airline overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport and will produce its first trucks in the third quarter of 2009.

Smith will initially focus its production on battery-electric vehicles for depot-based, predictable-route delivery fleets.

“We feel the greatest opportunity to have a major impact on the electric vehicle industry is through fleet operators who utilize commercial vehicles in a depot-based delivery model,” said CEO Bryan Hansel. “As more truck fleets adopt this technology, it will drive advancements in battery technology, drive down manufacturing costs, and form the foundation of a U.S.-based supply chain that, over time, will also significantly reduce the cost of commercial electric vehicles. This will make them a natural choice for fleet managers with a depot-based delivery model.”

Smith has already received a strong expression of interest from fleet operators and as a result, it is building a highly scalable assembly operation and supply chain to serve the emerging market. It will begin production using chassis from multiple vehicle manufacturers.

Canteen Vending Services, Frito-Lay North America, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company have signed on as launch partners, with Canteen Vending already signed on to purchase some of the first vehicles at assembly.

The first zero-emission truck will be the Smith Newton, the world’s largest battery-electric truck. It will have a top speed of 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h), a range of more than 100 miles (160 km) on a single charge, and a payload of up to 16,280 lbs (7,384 kg). It will use an Enova P120 drive system, currently used by Smith in Europe.

Through its U.K. partner, Smith is also working with the Ford Motor Company to produce a battery-electric version of the Ford Transit Connect, which is scheduled for production in 2010.

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