Obama Touts Energy Investments During Stop at Electric Vehicle Plant

KANSAS CITY, MO — A big part of President Barack Obama’s trip to Kansas City was to bring attention to federal energy investments, and his stop at an electric truck factor on Thursday highlighted what he says will be the foundation of the country’s future.

Obama toured the Smith Electric Truck plant near Kansas City International Airport, a company which received a $32 million federal grant to jump-start production of their all-electric commercial trucks. The company employs around 50 people, and has already delivered the trucks to companies like Coca-Cola, Frito Lay and Kansas City Power and Light.

“My answer to those who don’t have confidence in our future, who want to stop, my answer is come right here to Kansas City,” said Obama in a speech to workers and others at the plant. “Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric. I think they will be hard pressed to tell you that they are not better off that you would be if we had not made the investments in this plant.”

The Smith trucks can travel up to 50 miles per hours while hauling more than 16,000 pounds of cargo, and have a range of around 100 miles between charges.
The president told workers here he expects public investments in clean energy to create 700,000 new jobs in the next few years. Smith says it plans to hire 50 more workers by the end of the year.

“I think the president is right on,” said Don Nissanka of Smith Electric Vehicles. “I think the administration has done a good job of putting enough money into this economy right now. We’re in a depression and we needed this money to fuel the economy and fuel the jobs. I see it happening. It’s happening around the country.”

The president told workers at Smith that he’s convinced investments in new energy technologies, like what’s happening at Smith Electric Vehicles, will enable America to emerge from the recession stronger than before.

“Instead of buying one or two trucks because it’s such a healthy premium, with the grant we received, we’re actually able to offset some of the costs of that vehicle,” said Brian Hansel of Smith Electric Vehicles. “Now they’re looking at buying 50 or 100 vehicles.”

John  Pepitone