Smith Electric Vehicles Delivery Truck Quietly Shows Up at Truck Blue Book Conference
Ryan Taylor from Smith Electric Vehicles drove one of their electric trucks to the recent Truck Blue Book Conference so that attendees could test drive this revolutionary new vehicle. Smith Electric Vehicles recently built an assembly plant here in Kansas City for their lithium-ion battery-powered Newton delivery trucks. The 100 mile round trip from the factory plus local test drives near the conference center was well within its range capabilities on a single charge.
The trucks themselves are all-electric, zero-emissions vehicles. They’ll travel about 150-miles on a single 6-8-hour charge and can carry a payload of more-than 16,000-lbs depending upon configuration. The truck itself looks similar to many other city delivery trucks with a 20’ box. The differences become apparent with the test drive. Instead of a turn of the key and the sound of the familiar diesel clatter there is virtually no noise. It was like driving a big golf cart. Acceleration is like any other vehicle, push on the pedal and it goes and the farther you push it the faster it goes. There is no transmission so torque is instantaneous and constant. Speaking of torque, the 120kw induction motor produces more than 500 lbs of torque. Your typical turbocharged 4-cylinder 3-liter delivery truck engine delivers about 282 lb.-ft. of torque so the 77% increase could come in handy when pulling grade.
This truck drove normally except for the brakes. The brakes are regenerative, which means each time you apply them they generate electricity to recharge the batteries. The brakes are not quite linear, so when you apply the brakes the generator reacts at the wheels and there is a pulsating feel comparable to when one applies heavy braking to anti-lock brakes. This is similar to the brake feel of a hybrid car. You will learn to love the quirkiness of the brakes. Think of free diesel being pumped into your tank every time you hit the brakes. Brilliant.
When returning the truck back to the conference, a couple of truck dealers were discussing business. They didn’t even notice that I pulled up to within a few feet of where they were standing. Smith Electric may have to pipe some diesel clatter to external speakers so pedestrians will be aware of its presence while walking and texting.
The Newton is expensive relative to fossil fuel burning trucks. However, as truck and engine manufacturers continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into meeting ever increasing emission regulations, new diesel and gas engine costs are escalating. Battery electric costs are trending downward with new efficiencies in manufacturing.
The Smith Newton is a versatile machine, and can be configured as a delivery truck, bucket truck, utility truck, and more. The sky’s the limit for what this truck can accomplish in an urban setting. It doesn’t produce harmful emissions, doesn’t make much noise, and is overall a healthier alternative for the environment. The goodwill from running green makes this a marketers dream.