Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corp. says it will be building the battery-electric version of Ford Motor Co.’s Transit Connect light-duty van in Kansas City, MO.

Smith, headquartered in Kansas City, initially will invest $10 million to build the vans at an overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport, with 120 people expected to be employed there by 2010.

Smith will start production at the plant in the third quarter with the Smith Newton, which it says is the world’s largest battery-electric-powered truck, with a payload up to 16,280 lbs. (7,384 kg).

It has a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and can travel more than 100 miles (161 km) on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries, the company says.

The Smith Newton already has been sold in Europe for more than three years, used by mail and parcel delivery services, retailers and airports.

The Transit Connect will not begin production at the Kansas City plant until next year.

Smith is partnering with its parent company, the U.K.’s The Tanfield Group Plc, to electrify the van.