Four major US corporations and two utility companies took delivery of the Smith Newton, the largest road-going electric truck in North America. Coca-Cola, Staples, Frito-Lay, AT&T, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) are the first Newton customers in the USA.

This means that electric trucks created in Washington, Tyne & Wear are today on the roads of Washington DC.

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The trucks, conceived by Smith Electric Vehicles in North East England, were handed over at an official ceremony at the seat of power in the USA, Capitol Hill.

Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc, which owns Smith Electric Vehicles, said: “The electric vehicle technology delivered to these customers today can readily be delivered to fleets in every major town and city in North America.

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“The Smith Newton provides depot-based truck fleets with a realistic, zero emissions transport solution that both lowers greenhouse gas emissions and helps improve air quality in our urban centres.”

Powered by the latest Lithium-Ion batteries and a 120kw electric motor, the Smith Newton has a top speed of 50mph (80km) and a range in excess of 100 miles (160km) on a full charge. It can be recharged in six hours. Newton was launched in the UK by Smith Electric Vehicles in 2006. It is produced in North America by Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation, based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Missouri Senator Kit Bond, who hosted the launch event, said: “These next generation electric vehicles Smith is producing demonstrate exactly the kind of technology we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end our dependence on foreign oil.

“Missouri is a growing leader in exciting new battery technology, making it an ideal partner for all-electric vehicle manufacturing.”

The Smith Newton is emissions-free, runs without noise or vibration, and actually reclaims electric energy during stop-start urban operations, through regenerative braking.

The Smith Newton has a top speed of 50 mph, a range on one battery charge in excess of 100 miles. Three models are produced with gross vehicle weights of 7,500kg, 10,000kg and 12,000kg, providing a payload of up to 7,300kg.