Not many car enthusiast heard about Smith, but this company it’s building electric vehicles since 1920. Smith is specialized only on commercial vehicles and in its long history it didn’t build electric passenger cars, not even one.
The Smith Newton is a fully electric truck based on the Avia’s D Series. The truck can be used for various commercial applications such as mail and parcel delivery, logistics, retail, highway maintenance, and airports.
The Smith Newton is among the largest battery-electric-powered commercial trucks available on today’s market. It offers a maximum payload capacity of up to 16,280 lbs and is powered by a 120 kw electric motor. The truck is offered with a warranty of 36 months chassis & drive train and 60 months for the hv battery (3 years free replacement and 2 years prorated).
The Smith Newton shares the same cabin with the Avia D Series and except for the badge, both vehicles are identical.
Overall, the truck looks pretty modern with a dynamic appearance. The front fascia features a “V” shaped grille traversed by a few horizontal stripes with the SMITH name embossed at the bottom. The truck is also fitted with two dynamic triangular headlights which cope great with the rest of the design and underline the modern look of the truck.
Above the headlights, are mounted two side air deflectors which were designed to increase the vehicle’s stability at high speeds and to reduce wind noise.
The wraparound bumper ads the finishing touch to the front fascia and is fitted with two small rectangular fog lamps.
The steel cab received a four point suspension to offer a proper ride quality and also features zinc coated metal panels and anti-corrosion protection for a longer durability.
The interior is fairly spacious as you won’t complain about head or legroom. However, the materials are part of the hard class, while the fit and finish is far from being among the best in the segment.
The dashboard design is a bit dated and betrays the utilitarian nature of the truck. Luckily, everything seems durable and the cabin looks to be ready to endure the punishment of hard working conditions without any problems.
You also have a fair amount of storage places which include a deep pocket mounted in the centre of the dash, a few cubby holes, cup holders and some useable space behind the seats.
You won’t complain about the controls emplacement either as everything is within easy reach. The conventional gear knob is replaced with a park-reverse-neutral-drive control which can be reached without any problems.
The instrument cluster is the same as the one found in the fuel powered version, with big and easy to read gauges. Additionally the electric truck is fitted with the Smith Link onboard system that monitors and transmits the vehicle’s vital statistics by general packet radio service (GPRS) to a central server, allowing remote vehicle monitoring, diagnostics and reporting.
The seats are at par with what you’ll usually find in this segment, which means they are hard and devoid of proper side support. At least you’ll have plenty of adjustments to play with and the steering wheel can be also adjusted, enabling you to find a proper driving position.
As you sit high from the ground, the road visibility is pretty good. We especially like the deep elliptical door windows which enhance the lateral visibility and also give the cabin an airy feel.
The equipment list includes digital tachograph, electrically operated rear mirrors, air suspended driver´s seat, central locking, EV driver’s information system, air conditioning, radio/CD and cruise control.
Engines and performance
The Smith Newton is powered by an 180 hp motor which offers a maximum torque of 650 Nm. The engine gets its energy from Smith’s battery system which has the unique capability of managing power using an integration scheme that allows the use of lithium-ion batteries of varying sizes from different manufacturers. At the moment Smith uses batteries from Valence and A123.
On a single charge, the truck can run up to 100 miles and a fully charging takes between six and eight hours. Despite being all electric, the engine offers a proper power and can hit a maximum speed of 50 mph.
The engine is also combined with a regenerative braking system which uses the energy lost during braking to refill the lithium ion batteries. The service brake consists of a dual circuit, 4 wheel disc air brake system with WABCO ABS, air dryer and parking brake.
Ride and handling
The truck’s features a Ladder type frame which is cold riveted and bolted with U-section side members and open pro¬le steel cross members for an increased solidity.
The suspensions consists of front and rear parabolic springs with transverse torsion bar stabilizer and hydraulic double acting shock absorbers. Thanks to the ladder frame chassis and the hydraulic shock absorbers, the truck’s ride is pretty forgivable and can be even considered comfortable.
The electric motor is completely silent and apart from the wind you won’t be disturbed by any other noise in the cab.
Compared to the fuel powered model, the Smith Newton offers a slightly better handling and road stability due to the lower center of gravity offered by the heavy pack of batteries.
The Smith Newton continues to be one of the most appreciated trucks in its class, but lately its domination is starting to be threatened by models like the Navistar e-Star which were designed from zero as electric vehicles and offer more advantages.
However, the Smith Newton has anything it needs to deal well with competition and has already proven its reliability and strength, as it’s around for some years now. The cabin may not be as comfortable as other trucks in this class, but it offers a fair amount of space and has also a satisfactory ergonomy.
Luckily, the electric motor is up to the task and its 100 miles autonomy is worth to be taken into consideration.