Sometimes, you just don't want anyone to know what's happening. That's how Smith Electric Vehicles must have felt about stopping production of its all-electric delivery trucks in Kansas City, MO late last year. There was no press release issued and even the local newspaper, The Kansas City Star, didn't find out about the shutdown until a new quarterly filing was just submitted to the US Department of Energy.
The DOE gets reports from Smith because the federal agency gave the company a $32-million grant in 2010. That money was used to build 439 of a planned 510 demonstration vehicles (PDF) that are being used by entities around the country and feed information back to the DOE via the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We placed a phone call to Smith Electric for more information on the production suspension, but it went unanswered. The DOE sent an email statement to the Star that said the, "DOE continues to work with Smith Electric on the path forward for the remaining vehicle production." All vehicles were supposed to be delivered by the end of August, 2013.
Started in the UK, Smith's arm in the US has a history of promising good news but then not delivering. The company was going to file a $125 million-IPO (but didn't). The company also had plans to build trucks in Chicago, but that never happened, either. Same deal with a proposed production facility in New York.