Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Smith Electric Vehicles announced today that Smith will open an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Chicago, creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and boosting the already rapidly growing battery and electric vehicle sector in the city.
Smith’s decision to locate a facility in Chicago is influenced by the mayor’s voucher system created to accelerate the conversion from diesel to zero-emission, all-electric commercial vehicles, the large number of fleets interested in vehicle electrification, and the development incentives made available to Smith.
Smith is a manufacturer of all-electric commercial vehicles. The company produces trucks for multiple industries, including food and beverage, utility, telecommunications, retail, grocery, parcel and postal delivery, school transportation, military and government. Smith’s customers include fleet operators, including PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, FedEx, Staples, TNT, Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola, DHL, and the U.S. Military.
Chicago will be Smith’s third location in the U.S., joining their headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and a manufacturing facility in New York City.
Additionally, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has announced a comprehensive, $15 million incentive program that will encourage companies and individuals to modernize their fleets and convert to electric vehicles.
This plan rewards fleets on an increasing scale for replacing their most diesel-consuming 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. These vehicles and stations have displaced 200,000 barrels of oil and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2,850 tons.
Smith Electric Vehicles is currently considering locations for its manufacturing facility in conjunction with city officials. The company expects to begin hiring efforts immediately and announce this new location when the incentive and development packages tied to the site are complete.