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12/03/2012 11:10 AM     print story email story  

Smith Electric Opens Third Factory: In Chicago

SustainableBusiness.com News

Smith Electric Vehicles will soon open its third US factory, this time in Chicago, because of the city's innovative program that encourages fleets to adopt electric vehicles.

"Soon hundreds of Chicagoans will be able to put their skills to use providing businesses worldwide with high-quality, zero-emission, American-made vehicles," says 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."

Chicago's $15 million incentive program rewards fleets on an increasing scale for replacing their most diesel-consuming vehicles with electric ones. 

Funded with resources from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program, companies get vouchers to reduce the cost of converting vehicles to electric. The state also has rebates for electric vehicles and for setting up charging stations.

So far, Chicago has 202 EV charging stations - the densest network of any city.

Going forward, the city is considering setting aside preferential  loading zones for electric trucks and lower registration fees. 

"Mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption," says Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric. "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. The leadership being shown with the mayor's CDOT voucher program is a prime example of how Chicago is creating the template for a new energy city."

Last month, Chicago purchased electric garbage trucks for the first time.

Smith's electric vans, buses and trucks are used by some of the world's largest fleet operators, including PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury's, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the US Military.

The company's other factories are in Kansas City, Missouri and New York, which launched a program similar to Chicago's last year.



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