Right-wing media launch bizarre attack on electric truck company Obama visited

Following President Obama's recent visit to Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV U.S.), right-wing media have criticized the start-up electric truck company, which received stimulus grants in 2009 and 2010. For instance, Fox called the company a “Total Joke” and claimed that SEV U.S. “has not been able to hire any new people in the last year,” when in fact, SEV U.S. has hired 50 workers since starting production in October 2009.

Right-wing media claim SEV U.S. is a “Total Joke” and “did not hire any new employees” in the past year

Hoft claims Smith Electric Vehicles “did not hire any new employees.” In a July 8 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote, “After tripling the national deficit and watching unemployment surge to 10%, Barack Obama now believes that paying twice as much for a truck is good business.” Hoft further wrote: “The Smith Electric Vehicle manufacturer makes trucks that cost twice as much as normal delivery trucks. The company only survived this year because of a federal grant. It did not hire any new employees.”

Carlson: Smith Electric Vehicles “has not been able to hire any new people in the last year.” On the July 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy discussed Obama's visit to the Smith Electric Vehicles plant in Kansas City, MO, and stated: "[H]e was touting the fact that, look, you know, my stimulus -- this stimulus is really working. What he really didn't say, though, was the only reason that that company is still open today is because they got a $32 million grant from the federal government to stay in business." Carlson cited cost estimates for Smith electric trucks versus standard diesel trucks and claimed: “Quite frankly, it's way more expensive for people in a recession to buy those. Also, he didn't -- he didn't mention that that company has not been able to hire any new people in the last year. Probably because of the recession.”

Fox Nation: “Obama Praises Total Joke of a Company.” Linking to Hoft's blog post, a July 9 Fox Nation headline asserted, “Obama Praises Total Joke of a Company” :


In fact, SEV U.S. began production in October 2009 and currently employs 50 workers

SEV U.S. awarded stimulus grants in 2009, 2010. In August 2009, SEV U.S. was granted $10 million from the Recovery Act “to build and deploy up to 100 electric vehicles, including vans, pickups, and their 'Newton' brand medium duty trucks.” In March, SEV U.S. was granted “an additional $22 million to help with the development of zero-emission trucks and research their effectiveness,” according to the Associated Press. The Department of Energy states that its Transportation Electrification projects “will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles.”

SEV U.S. employs 50 people, plans to double workforce by end of the year. SEV U.S. began production in Kansas City in October 2009. A March 31 SEV U.S. press release states: “Smith's Kansas City assembly plant and corporate office currently employ approximately 50 people. The company anticipates employment to reach more than 100 by the end of the year.” According to the Kansas City Business Journal, SEV U.S. announced in February that it “plans to build as many as 20 regional assembly plants throughout the country.”

Marketplace: SEV U.S. “is one of the few manufacturers selling electric trucks to corporations.” The Kansas City Star reported that "[t]he Smith Electric grants will help pay for vehicle development and establish a demonstration program to gain information on how the trucks perform in different applications. The grants also will allow the company to offer subsidies to customers that participate." Marketplace reported on July 8 that “Smith Electric Vehicles is one of the few manufacturers selling electric trucks to corporations. Among its clientele: Staples office supplies, Coca-Cola and Frito Lay.”

SEV U.S. has offered to buy SEV U.K. Before receiving the stimulus grant, SEV U.S. “made a conditional offer to buy the Smith Electric Vehicles business based in the U.K.,” according to a March 10 press release. The Financial Times reported on March 11:

Now Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation, which numbers Coca-Cola among its customers, is offering to buy the UK business for £37m in cash, equivalent to 50p a share. The shares closed yesterday up 46 per cent at 41½p.

The offer is for the Smith Electric Vehicle business -- the 49 per cent of the US venture owned by Tanfield -- the licence agreement between the two, together with the intellectual property needed to operate Smith Electric round the world.

Tanfield has granted the potential buyer four months to finalise the offer, which is dependent on financing.

Hoft cropped CSM article to leave out forecast of future job growth in electric vehicle production. In his post, Hoft quoted a portion of a Christian Science Monitor article, but cropped out an assessment of future growth potential. From The Christian Science Monitor:

Highlighting jobs created by new electric truck makers might sound like a risky move for a president eager to show his policies -- including federal grants -- are making a difference in the economy. Who ever heard of an electric delivery truck anyway?

But like the image in a rear-view mirror, nearly silent, plug-in trucks -- and the jobs they could create as manufacturing of them increases -- may be a lot “closer than they appear,” observers say.

Early market studies suggest that as much as 30 percent of urban work trucks could be standard (Toyota Prius-like) gas-electric hybrids by 2020, according to Calstart, a Pasadena-based, clean transportation technology organization that works with about 130 companies nationwide. Another 5 to 10 percent could be plug-in hybrid (electric mainly with small gas engine) or all-electric trucks.

“What we're seeing is confluence of more robust electric technology, steadily decreasing battery costs, and concern about the fuel-price roller coaster,” says Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president for Calstart. “That has produced a stronger business case for companies to move toward electrifying their fleets.”