Ford and Smith Electric Vehicle announced plans to partner together to build battery electric vehicles at a new site in Kansas City.  Smith EV purchased a portion of an unused overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport to use as its factory for converting vehicles to BEVs and plans to begin producing the Ford Transit Connect BEV later this year.

 The BEVs are expected to be used by commercial fleets.  Companies on board for the BEVs produced by Ford and Smith EV include Canteen Vending Services, Frito Lay a division of Pepsi, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.  The plan to produce BEVs targeted at commericial fleets will provide a large base of customers and drive down battery costs and vehicle costs.  Smith EV states that they want to focus on commercial accounts that use a depot based model citing that delivery vehicles follow fixed routes of a given length and the stop and go driving style take advantage of BEVs abilities.

Initially, Ford and Smith EV will produce a BEV version of the Ford Transit Connect which has been on sale in the UK for awhile.  The Transit Connect is one of many BEVs expected from Ford and one of many plug in vehicles from Ford expected to be released within the next couple of years.

Smith EV is experienced in producing BEVS.  Smith EV is a UK based company and has been producing BEVs with its parent company Tanfield Group since the 1920s.  Smith has produced the Newton BEV delivery truck for more than three years in Europe and has large commercial accounts including postal service, logistics, retail, highway maintenance, and airports.

The new Smith EV plant in Kansas City is expected to create 120 jobs by 2010 and could increase in size according to demand.

Source:  Smith EV Press Release, Ford Press Release