Ruth Mitchell

Tanfield breaks with Ford

Early success for a North East electric vehicle firm’s US operation has led to it terminating a much-heralded partnership with Ford.

Smith Electric Vehicles US Corp (SEV US Corp), which is 49% owned by the Wearside-based Tanfield Group, reached an agreement with Ford in February to develop and introduce the electric version of the Transit Connect van in the US.

But since then, SEV US Corp, which was established earlier this year, has seen growth in demand for its own Smith Newton truck, designed and developed in the North East, with orders for 255 of the vehicles on its books.

As a result, the company, which started production at a new plant at Kansas City International Airport this month, has “mutually agreed” to terminate its development project with Ford.

It said that forecast volumes “did not justify the investment requirement and limited the working capital available to support the growth of Newton”.

A Tanfield Group spokesman said: “The Smith Newton is doing even better than we expected in the US.

“As a relatively young operation out there, it has limited resources and we felt the best use of the resource is to run with the production of the Smith Newton.”

It is understood that there is no ill-feeling with Ford over the decision and Tanfield remains Ford of Europe’s official collaborator on commercial electric vehicles.

Ford still intends to launch its own electric version of the Connect in the US and is understood to be looking for a new partner for that project.

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