By Kansas City Business Journal

Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corp. established itself in the Kansas City area about a year and a half ago, starting with little more than a leader, a technology and a plan.

But thanks to a burgeoning wave of interest in electric vehicles, recently propelled by federal money, the company has received millions of dollars for its Kansas City plant and plans to build plants throughout the country. And on Thursday, the Kansas City facility hosted President Obama, who used it as a stage from which to tout alternative energy, the federal stimulus package and the role of innovative companies in the nationâ¿¿s economic recovery.

Here are highlights of the rapid events, in reverse chronological order, that have catapulted SEV to the national stage:

July 8: President Obama visits SEVâ¿¿s Kansas City plant. (Read a transcript of his speech there.)

March 31: SEV says it will get $32 million in federal grants.

March 10: SEV offers to buy its British partner, Tanfield Group PLC.

Feb. 19: The company shifts strategies, planning to build as many as 20 regional assembly plants nationwide instead of base all U.S. production in Kansas City.

Jan. 27: Federal agencies and the military approve SEVâ¿¿s Smith Newton vehicle for purchase.

October 2009: SEV teams with another company to develop a prototype electric version of the vehicle used by the U.S. Postal Service, expands its Newton platform for additional vehicle models and rolls the first truck off its Kansas City assembly line.

July 2009: During ceremonies in Washington, SEVâ¿¿s first six battery-powered commercial vehicles are presented to four Fortune 500 companies.

March 2009: SEV says it has signed a lease with the Kansas City Aviation Department for about 100,000 square feet at the American Airlines overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010