Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Acquiring Its U.K.-based Parent Company For $15 Million

Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. (SEV) and the Tanfield Group announced today that the American maker of all-electric trucks will purchase its United Kingdom-based parent company, Smith Electric Vehicles U.K. for $15 million in January.

The company began its U.S. operations in Kansas City, Mo. in 2009. Led by chief executive Bryan Hansel, SEV is buying all of the assets and operating business of Smith Electric Vehicles U.K. and renaming its business there Smith Electric Vehicles Europe to reflect an imminent expansion.

The company is eyeing Germany and France, countries whose governments have embraced renewable energy and electric vehicles, Hansel told TechCrunch on Thursday. He also explained that unifying SEV’s divisions could help the company create, operational efficiencies and market synergies that will make it more financially sound and productive:

“First, we’ll have global purchasing power for a combined volume of key components like batteries. We had technical alliances before, but negotiated separately on these things. With this deal, we can leverage global buying power. That means something today, and will help reduce and drive out costs.

Efficiencies at scale will apply for our customers, too. We can offer them contract negotiations, pricing, terms and conditions, and global warranties [that are uniform across different regional divisions] thanks to the new structure.”

The $15-million sale will be effective Jan. 1, 2011. Smith U.K.’s current owner, the Tanfield Group, will retain 49 percent equity in SEV. This percentage is subject to dilution as SEV raises additional equity capital. Geoff Allison, the current managing director at Smith U.K. will retain his leadership role there. The company plans to retain the (approximate) 180-person workforce in Europe, and to expand it in 2011, Hansel confirmed.

Recently, SEV announced that the United States Marine Corps signed as a customer, adding a couple of Smith Newton all-electric, commercial trucks to its fleet at a West Coast training facility, Camp Pendleton, Calif to start. The Newton is the only medium duty (class 4-7) all-electric commercial truck on the federal government’s general services administration (GSA) schedule the company confirmed.

A Marine Corps website said:

“The consumption of energy to operate our facilities in support of our mission is a large and recurring cost in terms of both taxpayer dollars and drain on non-renewable resources. Dependence on fossil fuels in a volatile market and from unstable regions of the world is both a financial and security vulnerability. In recognition of these facts, the Commandant of the Marine Corps has set a goal for a 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2015.”

The trucks are currently being built at SEV’s Kansas City, Mo. plant and are scheduled for delivery to Camp Pendleton in February 2011. SEV plans to build additional manufacturing, sales and service facilities around the world in 2011.

The company’s U.S. customers now include fleets run by: Frito-Lay, Staples, Coke, AT&T and PG&E. All have replaced some of their diesel trucks with Smith Newtons, and use them on urban delivery routes. In Europe, Smith Electric’s customers include: the grocery business Sainsbury’s, and the shipping company TNT and several government customers through the U.K. Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme.