Environment Forum

Electric truck maker Smith acquires U.K. parent company

smith electric.jpgIn a sign of the potential strength of the nascent electric truck market in the United States, the American division of the U.K.’s Smith Electric Vehicles has acquired its parent company.

Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. bought a majority ownership stake in its parent for $15 million from the Tanfield Group, a publicly traded company. Tanfield will retain a 49 percent ownership share of Smith.

“The board of Tanfield believes that a consolidation of the Smith Electric Vehicles U.K. entity into our associate company, SEVUS [Smith Electric Vehicles U.S.], creating a single, larger U.S. based business, would be in the best interests of shareholders, particularly in light of the plans that SEVUS management have for the combined business post this transaction,” Darren Kell, Tanfield’s chief executive, said in a statement.

While electric passenger cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf have captured the public imagination, replacing diesel-powered urban delivery fleets with electric vehicles may offer a bigger immediate environmental payoff. Such trucks generally travel relatively short distances and would have access to urban charging stations. And as air quality standards are tightened, pressure will grow to restrict use of heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

Smith, based in Kansas, Mo., makes electric delivery trucks and other battery-powered, heavy-duty vehicles. The United States Department of Energy has awarded the U.S. division $32 million to develop and market its electric trucks.

California ports’ emissions plan: Full steam ahead!

Today, Reuters ran a story about the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports’ aggressive plan to slash pollutants — mostly exhaust from diesel engines — that have harmed air quality and contributed to health concerns in the local communities.  In implementing the plan, the ports have butted heads with some of the industries that they do business with, such as shippers, railroads and truckers.

Nevertheless, the plan is moving full steam ahead, so to speak.

During the course of reporting this story, we visited both ports to get an up-close view of some of the measures they are taking. The two videos below demonstrate two of those efforts, one at each port.

The first, from the Port of Long Beach, shows a technology to cap and collect emissions from a ship’s engines using a 2,500-pound “bonnet” made by Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc. The bonnet is lifted about 150 feet in the air to collect the exhaust from the ship’s auxiliary engines, which is then vaccuumed into a treatment system to remove the pollutants. The video first shows the bonnet affixed to the top of the ship, and later shows it being removed, allowing the dirty black smoke to escape into the atmosphere.