Smith Electric Vehicles, a division of the Tanfield Group, launched its latest electric-powered cargo van at the recent CV Show in Birmingham, England, and also a concept vehicle designed for the North American market. The new European model, based on the Ford Transit Connect cargo van, is badged Smith Ampere and carries dual Ford and Smith branding.
Unlike the larger Smith Edison, based on the Ford Transit cargo van, the lithium-ion battery pack does not take up space in the vehicle body. The battery pack is mounted under the floor. Smith claims a gross payload of up to 800 kg (1770 lb), 100 kg (220 lb) less than the diesel-powered Ford Transit Connect, but with an identical gross vehicle weight of 2340 kg (5160 lb).
Technical Director Doug MacAndrew told AEI, “Because of the mass distribution we’ve achieved, the axle weights are very similar to the Transit Connect. The driveline and underfloor battery pack adds 80 kg to the curb mass of a diesel-powered Transit Connect. This figure includes removing the diesel engine and gearbox as well as the fuel tank and replacing it with the Smith Electric drivetrain.”
Smith Electric claims a range of 100 mi (160 km) on fully charged batteries and a top speed of 70 mph (112 km/h). MacAndrew continued, “This represents our first foray into front-wheel-drive technology.” Describing the drivetrain of the vehicle, he said, “It has a single speed forward and single speed reverse permanent magnet motor driveline, with about 50 kW·h in terms of its performance. It has a 20-kW·h battery pack mounted forward of the rear wheels.”
The Ampere project has taken around 12 months from concept to the prototype displayed at the CV Show. Smith Electric has designed the Ampere for urban delivery fleets such as mail or package services and utility customers. Production is scheduled to begin in the fall.
Ford is also Smith Electric’s partner for its planned expansion in the North American electric-vehicle market and displayed a concept vehicle at the CV Show, based on a Ford F650 chassis cab. The model will be known as the Faraday Mark II. This vehicle will share its drivetrain and general specification with the Daewoo Avia-based Smith Newton, already available in North America. The Faraday Mark II will use the latest Valence Li-ion phosphate batteries recently adopted for the heavier Smith Electric models.
The Newton offers a gross vehicle weight range of 7500 kg (16,500 lb) to 12,000 kg (26,500 lb), although the Faraday Mark II is expected to offer a maximum GVW of 13,000 kg (28,700 lb). Smith gives a potential range of 100 mi on a fully charged battery pack and a top speed of around 50 mph (80 km/h).
For Smith’s North American expansion, Ford has agreed to supply heavier F-Series chassis, excluding the pickup range. Because of the weight of the F-Series diesel drivetrain, the Faraday Mark II could be Smith’s first product to offer an equivalent or greater payload than the donor vehicle.
In December 2007, Smith Electric announced plans to build a production plant in the U.S. Initial Faraday Mark II production will be based at the company’s Fresno, CA, facility, while the company completes its search for the new site. This will have a planned annual capacity of 10,000 vehicles per year from 2010.