Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles announced last week that it will develop a 90,000-square-foot assembly plant for electric commercial vehicles at the former Murray Feiss building in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. The project will create over 100 permanent jobs and will be the first clean technology manufacturing facility to be located anywhere in the Bronx. Smith will lease, renovate, and equip the space, where it will manufacture its Newton model vehicle (pictured). The $100,000 Newton is a zero-emission, all-electric commercial vehicle that delivers a range of 150 miles, a payload of more than 16,000 pounds, and average annual operating costs that Smith estimates are 1/3 to 1/2 of conventional diesel vehicles. The trucks should also save New York City 11,700 tons of greenhouse gases and 1 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.
Construction at the plant is being funded by a variety of state and city incentives that top $6 million, including $3.4 million in Excelsior tax credit benefits from Empire State Development, $1.7 million in tax exemptions from the New York City Industrial Development Agency, and $1.5 million in tax abatement from the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Purchasers of each Newton model will get up to $20,000 off the cost of the vehicle: the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has already committed $10 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding for the initial year of what is expected to be a five-year plug-in, all-electric vehicle buyer subsidy program.The program will be administered by NYSERDA and is designed to attract clean vehicle manufacturers to New York and encourage the purchase of their products.
According to Smith CEO Bryan Hansel, the company originally thought New York City would be off the table because of the cost of doing business here, but the financial incentives made the project work. “We have a relatively low cost of overhead, and when we came into a city this size, we really had to make the economics work,” he told GlobeSt.com.
Smith Electric filed for a $125 million IPO earlier this month and already supplies zero-emission electric trucks to clients that include Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Staples, and the Marines. The company was originally a British concern that was bought out by its American subsidiary back in January. The Bronx plant should be operatational by the second quarter of 2012.
“Whether it is by aligning resources, increasing access to financing or increasing access to modern industrial space, we are seeing these [types of] efforts change neighborhoods, whether it is a one-million-square-foot formerly abandoned warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, or this project, where Smith will actually be assembling new vehicles in the Bronx. We look forward to working with Smith to ensure future growth in New York City,” NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky said.