THE world's largest manufacturer of electric vehicles is using software designed in North Yorkshire to support the President of the United State's drive for electrification.
Smith Electric Vehicles US Corporation needs to gather information from its fleet of vehicles to demonstrate the effectiveness of its new fleet of all-electric, zero emissions commercial trucks.
"The data will help the government understand the application and feasibility of the deployment of electric commercial vehicles," Robin Mackie, chief technical officer, told the Yorkshire Post.
Smith US has received a $32m grant from the US Department of Energy for its electric vehicle demonstration programme and in the summer was singled out for praise by Barack Obama.
The US president visited the company's Kansas City manufacturing facility in July and told staff they were "building the economy of America's future" with their battery-powered vehicles.
"This is how we ensure that America not only recovers, but prospers – that this nation leads in the industries of the future," he said.
Skipton-based StormMQ is providing message-queuing software to help Smith US collect telemetry information on individual operation and performance in its fleet of more than 500 vehicles.
Mr Mackie said he chose the company ahead of rival bids from firms such as IBM because its product was "extremely good and cheaper and more effective than the competition".
While infrastructure for electric cars remains some way off, requiring major investment in a recharging network, Smith US is focusing on high-density urban logistics.
Mr Mackie said: "If you have a vehicle delivering fizzy drinks or potato chips to the centre of Manhattan it would average less than 100 miles a day but would find itself on regular stops and starts.
"It drives around a pre-determined route and returns to depot where it could be plugged back into a charger. It is not the same kind of infrastructure that people associate with electric cars."
Smith US's trucks have been in production since February and the company has started delivering them to clients across America. Each vehicle has a top speed of 50mph, a range of up to 100 miles on a full battery charge and payload capabilities of up to 16,000lbs.
Bryan Hansel, chief executive of Smith US, said: "Electric trucks represent a fantastic opportunity for America to create green collar jobs, cut carbon emissions from the most polluting vehicles on our highways and reduce reliance on foreign oil."
StormMQ spent two years developing its message-queuing software and was incorporated as a business in March.
The deal with Smith US represents its first major contract win and will ensure the company has a six-figure turnover in its first year of trading, said managing director Raphael Cohn.
Mr Cohn added: "We wrote the software that sends the data from the vehicles, doesn't lose it if the van can't get a signal – if it is in a tunnel – transmits it securely, splits it up into manageable pieces, temporarily stores it if the recipient computers aren't working and
then spoon feeds it to various things that use it – such as fleet managers, systems of record and things that check stuff is where it should be. Yes, we are very technical. But we are essential."
Mr Cohn, a 33-year-old Oxford University graduate, previously worked as an IT troubleshooter for Barclays Global Investors and BP. He was brought up in Essex, although his grandparents and great-grandparents worked at Salts Mill in Saltaire .
Smith US licenses its technology from Smith Electric Vehicles in the UK, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial electric vehicles.
The North East firm was founded in 1920 and acquired by Tanfield plc, a Tyne and Wear based electric vehicle manufacturer. Smith US is owned by Private Investors Management and Tanfield plc.
The place to do business
Raphael Cohn, a 33-year-old Oxford University graduate, previously worked as an IT troubleshooter for Barclays Global Investors and BP.
He was brought up in Essex, although his grandparents and great-grandparents worked at Salts Mill in Saltaire.
"Home for me has always been Yorkshire, and I returned here when we started StormMQ. It's a far better location to do business – we can get to Manchester, Liverpool, and the like easily," he said.