It looks like Smith Electric Vehicles will still be there – and it wasn’t looking too good not so long ago. Smith Electric, which produces all electric medium-duty commercial vehicles, has secured a $42 million investment from Sinopoly Battery Limited, a global supplier of lithium-ion batteries and related EV products. Sinopoly will be the exclusive supplier of batteries for Smith Electric vehicles (and vehicle applications compatible with Smith Electric platforms). The supplier will also provide EV components that will be manufactured at its Hangzhou, China, facility. Smith Electric will resume production in its Kansas City, Mo., facility in mid-summer 2014. The company recently suspended production to transition its supply chain to Tier 1 suppliers; that will enable Smith Electric to produce its vehicles at a lower cost, the company said.
And in other clean transportation news……..
- AC Transit (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District) in Oakland, Calif. is considering removing fuel cell buses from its fleet, according to an anonymous source. Transit districts have been a testing ground for alternative fuel vehicles; AC Transit has been testing out a fuel cell demonstration program since 2000 and has been considered to have the most comprehensive program in the US. The transit agency currently operates 12 third-generation fuel cell buses powered by a 120 kilowatt fuel cell power system.
- New York has modified the list of trucks that are eligible under its $19 million Voucher Incentive Program. Hino’s 195h and 195h-DC diesel electric cab-over has been approved for the program and the list also includes OEMs such as Daimler Trucks North America, Isuzu, Peterbilt, and Volvo.
- Toyota is wrapping up its deal with Tesla Motors to buy Tesla battery packs and motors for the Toyota RAV4 EV by the end of the year. In May 2012, Toyota, which owns 2.4% of Tesla Motors, said it would buy components for 2,600 RAV4 EVs over three years. That deal had produced $15.1 million in revenue for Tesla in the quarter that just ended. The RAV4 EV has never sold very well, and Toyota will be taking it out production later this year. This comes soon after Tesla announced first quarter 2014 performance – producing a record 7,535 vehicles and delivering 6,457 of them. On the state battle front, Tesla says its ready to fight in Missouri to sell directly to consumers; a bill looks like it will be introduced in the state to bar Tesla’s company-owned store system.
- Dates for the next AltCar Expo have been released: Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, in Santa Monica ,Calif.
- Navigant Research has launched the Transportation Forecast Research Service, an information and forecasting service that will focus on electric, stop-start, natural gas, fuel cell, propane and conventional vehicles. It’s part of Navigant’s Smart Transportation program.
- General Motors’ Project Driveway has passed the three million miles of hydrogen-powered driving. It’s fleet of Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicles have been driven by over 5,000 drivers who’ve given feedback on their experience. Some of the crossovers have traveled more than 120,000 miles and the fleet has saved 157,894 gallons of gasoline consumptions.
- General Motors announced pricing for its 2015 Chevrolet Impala bi-fuel model that can run on CNG or gasoline — $38,210 including destination. That makes for two CNG-powered production cars in the US with the Honda Civic Natural Gas.
- Cal State University, Los Angeles last week opened the largest hydrogen station operated by a university in the US.
- Texas will be offering $2,500 rebates to buyers of plug-in electric vehicles. It was approved by the state legislature last fall with in intended spring 2014 start date.
- Chrysler Group is recalling 4,100 Fiat 500 electric cars; a power inverter module on 2013-2105 Fiat 500e may be experiencing coolant seepage that causes power loss while driving – a short circuit leading to power loss. Chrysler says there have so far been five incidents but no fires.
- Mahindra Group is investing in a 37,000 square-foot facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., to the produce the all-new GenZe electric scooter. It’s still not been made clear when the functional, lightweight scooter with plenty of baggage carrying space will be available for sale in the US.
- BMW Group’s factory in Moses Lake, Wash., will be getting an investment of $200 million from BMW and SGL Group to triple capacity of its carbon fiber plant. It will be the world’s largest producer of car bon fiber with an annual output of 9,000 tons by 2015 once expansion is completed. BMW’s i3 and i8 are built with carbon fiber reinforced plastics to increase their range and efficiency.