Smith Electric Vehicles and China’s biggest automotive components manufacturer are entering into a joint venture to manufacture commercial electric vehicles (EVs) in China.
Wanxiang will take a $25 million equity stake in Smith Electric and invest up to $75 million in their joint venture to develop, manufacture and commercialize electric school buses and commercial vehicles for multiple industries in China.
Under the Smith brand, these vehicles will combine Wanxiang’s EV componentry technologies with Smith’s proprietary platform vehicle designs, including its Smith DriveTM and Smith PowerTM systems.
Smith produces electric vehicles (EVs) for commercial uses – vans, buses and trucks – for companies and municipalities. It sold 320 vehicles last year and says it has written letters of interest for 2200 vehicles.
It recently unveiled the first first electric school bus and is designing the largest fleet of commercial electric trucks in North America for Frito-Lay, while doing a pilot with Duane Reade, NYC’s largest drug store chain.
Smith has filed for IPO, hoping to raise $125 million. It raised $58 million in equity funding in 2011, one of the larger funding rounds in cleantech.
Wanxiang Group is among the largest non-government-owned companies in China. It’s an international conglomerate involved in everything from renewable energy to agricultural products, from auto parts to financial services, with $12 billion in annual revenue.
Both the investment and joint venture are subject to the execution of definitive agreements and receipt of regulatory and other third party approvals.
"Wanxiang’s high quality precision manufacturing capabilities and purchasing relationships bring significant value to our business in our current stage of development," says Bryan Hansel, Smith CEO. "Wanxiang is one of China’s most respected companies and we look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship that advances the global commercial electric vehicle industry."
"Smith’s market leadership in the U.S. and Europe bring valuable experience and technology to address the significant opportunity for all-electric commercial vehicles in China," says Pingyi Li, executive director of Wanxiang EV Co. Ltd. "Working together, we see tremendous opportunity to serve this growing market and to leverage volume and cost synergies back into Smith’s global business."
Smith designs and manufactures zero-emission commercial electric vehicles that are an alternative to traditional diesel trucks. It has manufacturing plants in the US and UK.
In November, Smith announced it would build a plant in NY State where there’s a healthy incentive for commercial fleets to convert to electric.