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Smith Electric Vehicles Brings EVs to Chicago

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 6, 2012

Chicago just got electrified. City Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles (NASDAQ: SMTH) jointly announced the opening of an EV manufacturing facility in the city.

The project is expected to lead to a few hundred jobs in Chicago, and of course, it’d further boost the city’s nascent EV sector.

Emanuel’s voucher system is, in large part, responsible for the decision. The vouchers incentivize the switch from diesel to zero-emissions, all-electric systems in commercial vehicles.

But the sheer number of fleets that demonstrate an interest in such conversions and other developmental incentives surely also played a role.

From press release:

“I’m proud to welcome another growing company with a great mission to Chicago. Soon hundreds of Chicagoans will be able to put their skills to use providing businesses worldwide with high-quality, zero-emission, American-made vehicles,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Smith Electric Vehicles is an innovative company in a forward-looking, essential industry that is a central part of Chicago’s economic future.”

Smith is a leader in the all-electric commercial vehicle manufacturing industry, and customers include big names like FedEx (NYSE: FDX), Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), and even the U.S. Military.

After New York City and Smith’s HQ in Kansas City, Chicago marks the third U.S. location for the company.

Under Emanuel, the Chicago Department of Transportation has an incentive program planned worth $15 million designed to stimulate conversion of fleets to electric vehicles. Funding comes from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program.

Overall, Chicago has deployed 404 cleaner vehicles: 159 CNG vehicles, 17 CNG fuel stations, and 202 EV charging stations. The system makes Chicago the city with the densest network for cleaner vehicles, the press release reports.

So far, Chicago has reduced greenhouse vehicular emissions by 2,850 tons.

Meanwhile, Smith’s customer FedEx has begun deploying 100 new vehicles within the U.S., improving on their existing EVs in operation, while Coca-Cola has successfully concluded a pilot program and will acquire and set out additional vehicles in the coming year.

Things are moving fast with the new facility. Smith is considering locations and will begin hiring immediately.

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