The US government has awarded Smiths Electric Vehicles £6 million ($10m) in stimulus funding, which it will use to build a 100-strong demonstrator fleet.
The funding is part of £1.4bn ($2.4bn) in electric vehicle and traction battery grants from the Department of Energy announced yesterday, under the President Obama’s Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Other recipients include Ford and General Motors.
The fleet will include the Smith Newton electric truck, along with the first pure electric Ford Transit Connect light vans, produced in collaboration with Ford.
Darren Kell, chief executive of the Tanfield Group, which owns 49 per cent of Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation, said: “Right now, corporate America has tens of thousands of urban commercial vehicles in operation that could be immediately replaced with our electric vehicle technology.
“This Federal funding incentivises the purchase of seed vehicles for major fleet operators, thereby accelerating the switch from trial phase to volume orders.
“The programme will also allow us to deliver America’s first fleet of electric light vans, produced in collaboration with Ford.
“Government initiatives such as this one and those recently announced in the UK will help to drive volume and ultimately lower the cost of our vehicles.”
Part of the grant will go towards new equipment and workforce training at Smith’s new assembly site in Kansas City, Missouri.
Smiths plans to deliver the first vehicles under this programme in the final quarter of 2009, with the balance to be delivered in 2010.