Production Suspended as Supply Chain to Shift Largely to Asia
Smith Electric Vehicles suspended production of its battery electric trucks in Kansas City late last year, but plans to resume with a superior and more economical supply chain based on Tier One component providers this summer, says CEO Bryan Hansel.
“We are currently moving from one supply chain to another,” Hansel says.
“We’re in an important transition for the company,” agrees Angela Strand, chief marketing officer at Smith EVs.
“We’re bringing in the next level of supply chain in terms of true Tier One suppliers,” Hansel told F&F, confirming a federal report that production of Smith’s battery trucks was halted in the fourth quarter of 2013 “due to the company’s tight cash flow situation.”
‘Vehicles in Volume, and at a Profit’
Smith is transitioning the supply of key electrical components – batteries, motors, controllers and battery management systems – from mostly European to mostly Asian suppliers, Hansel says, and will resume production in Kansas City.
“We expect that factory back up and running this summer,” he says.
“We’ll be able to manufacture vehicles in volume, and at a profit,” says Strand.
Smith will continue to use chassis from Avia Ashok Leyland in the Czech Republic for its signature Newton vehicle, Hansel says, although Asian chassis suppliers are a future possibility too.
Past suppliers to Smith have included A123, Brusa Elektronik (Switzerland), EDN (Italy), Impact CPTS (Poland), Sensor-Technik UK, and MagTec (UK) (F&F, November 28, 2011).
Smith was designated for a $32 million Department of Energy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award in April 2010, has received $29.15 million of it, and has placed 439 of an agreed-upon 510 Newton battery trucks in service, DoE says.
Prominent fleets operating Smith EVs include PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, Duane Reade (Walgreens), FedEx, Red Bull, Staples, and TNT.
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Source: Federal recovery.gov website with Fleets & Fuels follow-up