Chinese Swoop in on Taxpayer-Subsidized Electric Truck Maker

Smith Electric logoThe painful and fruitless existence of Smith Electric Vehicles, waster of $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, has been extended after yet another near bankruptcy.

The Kansas City electric delivery truck manufacturer, whose actual business negotiates in government grants, tax breaks and other subsidies – rather than a product anyone actually wants to pay for – had announced at the end of September, via its British investor Tanfield Group, that it needed to raise $4.5 million by October 2nd and $10 million by the end of the month. Without the cash infusion, Tanfield said, “the company is likely to be forced to seek protection under US bankruptcy laws or close down its operations.”

Yesterday Tanfield notified its own investors that Smith Electric had “raised a loan” of $2.9 million thanks to help from – as you might guess – a Chinese manufacturer, FDG Electric Vehicles Limited

Bottomless Subsidies Needed to Keep DOE Electric Truck Project Alive

Frito Lay Electric TruckDespite little news over the past nine months since its last-minute abandonment of an initial public offering that was supposed to raise $76 million in cash, stimulus recipient Smith Electric Vehicles is showing little evidence it can inspire demand for its commercial trucks, like its plug-in car counterparts.

Smith’s selling point for its step vans was that, unlike electric automobiles, delivery routes in urban areas did not require a long range between refueling (or, recharging). Frequent stops and short distances alleviated the “range anxiety” that accompanies cars like the Nissan Leaf. Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola and Staples were cited as early adopters of the truck demonstration project, which was launched with the help of $32 million in taxpayer funds.

Alas, it’s not helping. Once holding the lofty expectations of the IPO last September, the company is now quietly noting it raised $8.6 million in “bridge” funding. CEO Bryan Hansel said that the …

Taxpayer-Funded EV Company Abandons IPO It Thought Would Save It

Frito Lay Electric TruckThe failing British electric vehicle company that pretended to become an American one in order to save its U.K. investors has scrapped its planned initial public offering that it hoped would save it in Kansas City.

Smith Electric Vehicles, recipient of $32 million in taxpayer stimulus, had reportedly fantasized it would raise $76 million (down from $125 million) via an IPO by selling roughly 4 ½ million shares at $16 to $18 each. CEO Bryan Hansel bowed to reality Thursday night and rescinded those plans.

“We received significant interest from potential investors,” he said in a statement. “However, we were unable to complete a transaction at a valuation or size that would be in the best interests of our company and its existing shareholders.”

Hansel said that the company will pursue “private financing opportunities” instead, which is also likely a fantasy – at least one that will enable …

Taxpayer-Funded Electric Vehicle Maker Needs IPO Cash to Survive

Frito Lay Electric TruckSmith Electric Vehicles, which is using $32 million in taxpayer stimulus to practically give away its delivery trucks to corporations like Frito-Lay (owned by PepsiCo), Coca-Cola and Staples, is hemorrhaging money anyway and now is looking to an initial public offering to pay off debts and try to survive.

The Kansas City Star reported last week that Smith cut its production expectations and warning it is running low on cash, citing filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company announced nearly a year ago it would seek $125 million through an IPO, but now says it hopes to raise about $76 million at a stock price of $16 to $18, according to a Kansas City Business Journal report.

Good luck with that. The Journal said the revenues generated “would help pay off a $16.5 million bridge loan, $1.3 million related to a legal settlement involving …

Infinite Taxpayer Money Needed for Electric Truck Company’s Survival

Frito Lay Electric TruckDespite a new report out of the United Kingdom that says the future of the business is bleak without government subsidies, a three-year-old unprofitable electric truck company that received $32 million in U.S. taxpayer stimulus plans to raise more money via an initial public offering.

Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles was launched in January 2009, and despite its lack of track record and the inexperience of its leadership, the Department of Energy awarded the company $10 million in August 2009, and an additional $22 million in March 2010, for an electric truck demonstration program. The company was little more than a spinoff of a failed U.K. operation with the same name, owned by a troubled parent company called The Tanfield Group. In July 2008 – largely because of Smith-UK’s shortcomings – Tanfield’s stock price “collapsed” (scroll down at link) and was harming other holdings of its founder, …

Frito-Lay/PepsiCo Cashes in On Electric Truck Subsidies

Frito Lay Electric Truck

Last week Frito-Lay, the $12 billion snack foods division of PepsiCo, boasted it would add 10 all-electric delivery trucks in Orlando, Fla., as part of its plan to deploy 176 such vehicles in the U.S. and Canada by the end of year.

As is custom with corporate announcements that proclaim their eco-accomplishments, so as to pacify persistent climate alarmists, Frito-Lay said the vehicles would emit “zero” pollutants from tailpipes and release 75 percent fewer greenhouse gases than diesel. The ETs (electric trucks) can allegedly run 100 miles on a single charge, and Frito-Lay says the groundbreaking new haulers provide “a long-term economically viable solution” – apparently to solve global warming.

Regular readers of NLPC should know the Chevy Volt sticker price, before the $7,500 tax credit, is $41,000, and for the Nissan Leaf it’s $35,200. So the cost for an electric delivery truck must be somewhat higher, right? And …

Noisy Sun Chips Bag Underscores Bigger PepsiCo Problem

Sun ChipsSun Chips’ loud bag is getting lots of attention, including a Wall Street Journal story yesterday. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division bills it as “The World’s First 100% Compostable Chip Package.”

The overwhelming crinkle of the bag annoys people, and it is inappropriate in certain settings like theaters and schools. It is hard to imagine how this bag ever got off the drawing board when one considers how much PepsiCo spends on perfecting and marketing its products.Actually, it is easy to imagine when one considers the politicization of PepsiCo in recent years, which has accelerated under CEO Indra Nooyi. When proving how “green” you are trumps other considerations, you end up with weird results like this bag.

Even if the bag did not make so much noise, can PepsiCo really make the case for a compostable potato chip bag? How many consumers compost? And even among the tiny percentage who do, …