Smith Electric Vehicles announced that it will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago, after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a voucher system created to accelerate the conversion from diesel to all-electric commercial vehicles.
The Newton is one of the all-electric commercial vehicles produced by Smith.
The Newton is one of the all-electric commercial vehicles produced by Smith.

In addition to the voucher program, Smith said it was influenced by the large number of fleets interested in vehicle electrification, and the development incentives made available to Smith.

Chicago will be Smith's third location in the United States, joining their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City.

Smith makes all-electric commercial vehicles for industries including food and beverage, utility, telecommunications, retail, grocery, parcel and postal delivery, school transportation, military and government. Smith's customers include many of the world's largest fleet operators, including PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury's, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the U.S. Military.

Smith Electric Vehicles is currently considering locations for its manufacturing facility in conjunction with Chicago officials.

The Chicago Department of Transportation announced a $15 million incentive program that will encourage companies and individuals to convert to electric vehicles. The program's initial $15 million is funded by resources from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program and will provide vouchers to assist companies in reducing the costs of converting their vehicles to electric.

The city is also considering additional incentives such as preferential loading zones and decreased registration costs to complement the voucher program.

Fleets can stack the State of Illinois' Alternative Fuel Vehicle and EV Charging Station Rebates on top of the city's incentive.

Through similar federally funded incentive programs, the city has helped deploy 404 cleaner vehicles, including 159 compressed natural gas livery/taxi vehicles and 223 alternative fuel stations, including 17 CNG and 202 electric vehicle charging stations, the densest network of any major city.

"A mass urban deployment of commercial electric vehicles is an important next step in catalyzing mainstream adoption," said Smith CEO Bryan Hansel. "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."

Related Stories:

11/29/2012 Chicago to Offer Incentives to Convert Fleets to Electric Power

11/27/2012 Chicago Orders Electric-Powered Heavy Trash Trucks

3/7/2012 Smith Electric Vehicles Launches Production of All-Electric Newton Step Van