Electric truck maker seeks to boost capacity

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Smith Electric Vehicles is to set up a factory in the USA with capacity to produce up to 10,000 zero emission vehicles a year, from 2010.  And it is looking to expand its UK facilities to 5,000 vehicles a year.

Darren Kell, chief executive of The Tanfield Group, which owns Smith, 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 already has a 70,000 sq ft factory in Fresno, California, which has the capacity to produce 1,000 vehicles next year. It has a 250,000 sq 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 a year, 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 500,000 sq ft assembly facility, test track and space for rolling stock. It 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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