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Smith to Build eTrucks in Chicago

December 10, 2012 in batteries, EVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

City Becoming EV Central with Incentives & Argonne Batteries,
FedEx Is Adding 100-Plus Smith Battery Trucks to World Fleet

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $15 million incentive program for battery trucks has been followed by word that Smith Electric Vehicles will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility there, “creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and boosting the already rapidly growing battery and electric vehicle sector in the City.”

FedEx Express has two battery trucks by Smith Electric Vehicles in service in Ford Collins, Colo. ‘Many more will hit the road in 2013,’ a spokeswoman says.

Chicago will be Smith’s third U.S. location, joining the firm’s Kansas City headquarters and a new manufacturing facility in New York City.

Smith also said that FedEx Express would deploy 100 more of its battery trucks, and that Coca-Cola would add vehicles in 2013.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy designated its Argonne National Laboratory immediately outside Chicago as a battery technology hub, formally the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. JCESR “will combine the R&D firepower of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms,” DoE says – with five-year federal funding of $120 million.

‘A Central Part of Chicago’s Economic Future’

Chicago Mayor Emanuel called Smith “an innovative company in a forward-looking, essential industry that is a central part of Chicago’s economic future.” His office is using federal money to fund a $15 million incentive program to encourage companies and individuals to modernize their fleets and convert to electric vehicles. Solicitations will be ready in the spring (F&F, November 28). Chicago already claims 17 compressed natural gas and 202 electric vehicle charging stations – “the densest network of any major city.”

Argonne battery researcher Javier Bareno manipulates an air-sensitive sample inside an inert glove box.

“A mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption,” Smith CEO Bryan Hansel said in his firm’s joint release with the city.

“Chicago’s location, commitment to adoption in municipal fleets, concentration of commercial vehicles, talented workforce and importance to the global business community make it a perfect choice to grow our company and this industry,” Hansel said.

In addition to FedEx and Coke, Smith fleet customers include PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury’s, DHL, and the U.S. military.

Smith says it is evaluating sites for its new Chicago factory as incentive and development packages are completed, but that it expects to begin hiring “immediately.”

Dow, Applied Materials, JCI, Clean Energy Trust

In Washington, Energy Secretary Steven Chu described JCESR, the new battery hub at Argonne, as “a partnership between world leading scientists and world leading companies, committed to ensuring that the advanced battery technologies the world needs will be invented and built right here in America… There are very good reasons to believe that advanced battery technologies can and will play an increasingly valuable role in strengthening America’s energy and economic security,” Chu said.

Argonne assistant materials scientist Swati Pol loads an in-situ lithium ion battery into a low-energy resolution inelastic X-ray (LERIX) device.

“The large-scale, innovative research and transformational new battery systems that will result from this venture will mean more effective, lower cost and longer life energy storage technologies with real world applications for anything that can use a rechargeable battery,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

“The Hub will bring the private sector, national labs and universities together to deliver new technologies and scientific approaches needed to transform the battery and energy storage industry.”

$5 Million from the State

The State of Illinois is contributing $5 million toward construction of the new Argonne facility.

The industrial partners for the Argonne JCESR are Dow Chemical, Applied Materials, Johnson Controls, Inc. and Chicago’s Clean Energy Trust.

The participating DoE labs are Lawrence Berkeley, Pacific Northwest, Sandia, and the SLAC National Accelerator Lab at Stanford University. JCESR University partners are Northwestern, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and the University of Michigan.

George Crabtree

JCESR (pronounced “J-Caesar,” DoE notes) will be directed by Argonne senior scientist George Crabtree, a Distinguished Professor of physics, electrical and mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Source: Smith EVs, City of Chicago, Fleets & Fuels follow-up


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