KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. has signed a letter of intent with Wanxiang Group that includes a joint venture investment of up to $75 million to develop, manufacture and commercialize all-electric school buses and commercial vehicles for multiple industries in China.
Smith Electric Vehicles is a provider of all-electric commercial vehicles, and Wanxiang Group offers automotive parts manufacturing and supply.
The principal terms of the agreement also include a $25 million equity investment in Smith by Wanxiang.
Under the Smith brand, the vehicles manufactured under the joint venture will combine Wanxiang’s EV componentry technologies with Smith’s proprietary platform vehicle designs, including its Smith Drive and Smith Power systems.
(As SBF has previously reported, Trans Tech Bus' eTrans all-electric school bus is built on a Smith Electric Vehicles zero-emissions Newton chassis.)
Both the investment and the joint venture are subject to the execution of definitive agreements and receipt of regulatory and other third-party approvals, officials said.
“Wanxiang’s high-quality precision manufacturing capabilities and purchasing relationships bring significant value to our business in our current stage of development,” said Bryan Hansel, CEO and chairman of Smith. “Wanxiang is one of China’s most respected companies, and we look forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship that advances the global commercial electric vehicle industry.”
“Smith’s market leadership in the U.S. and Europe bring valuable experience and technology to address the significant opportunity for all-electric commercial vehicles in China," added Pingyi Li, executive director of Wanxiang EV Co. Ltd. "Working together, we see tremendous opportunity to serve this growing market and to leverage volume and cost synergies back into Smith’s global business. We are pleased to have them as our partner."
Smith and Wanxiang signed the letter of intent last week in Los Angeles at the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in connection with a meeting of business leaders from the U.S. and China, and a state visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.