Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. has signed a letter of intent with Wanxiang Group, a China-based global leader in automotive parts manufacturing and supply. The principal terms include a $25-million equity investment in Smith by Wanxiang and up to a $75-million investment in a joint venture between Smith and Wanxiang to develop, manufacture and commercialize all-electric school buses and commercial vehicles for multiple industries in China.
Under the Smith brand, these vehicles will combine Wanxiang’s EV componentry technologies with Smith’s proprietary platform vehicle designs, including its Smith Drive and Smith Power systems. Both the investment and the joint venture are subject to the execution of definitive agreements and receipt of regulatory and other third-party approvals.
Smith Drive is Smith’s proprietary vehicle drive and control system, featuring a configurable drive controller with integrated inverters for the management of auxiliary systems. Smith Drive utilizes a brushless permanent magnet motor, and incorporates an integrated control protocol with Smith Power that supports a common diagnostic interface.
Smith Power is Smith’s proprietary battery system, which utilizes battery cells of varying sizes from different manufacturers. Smith’s current preferred partners are Valence and A123. Smith configures battery size per vehicle model and route requirements to maximize the vehicle return on investment.
Smith currently manufactures the Newton (GVW 16,500 – 26,400 lb, or 7,500 – 12,000 kg) and the Edison (GVW 7,700 – 10,400 lb, or 3,500-4,600 kg).
Smith and Wanxiang signed the letter of intent this morning in Los Angeles, CA at the US-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, in connection with a meeting of business leaders from the US and China and a state visit by Chinese Vice President XI Jinping.