Smith US will pay Tanfield, the owner of the UK division, £9.7m in up to 20 monthly installments following the transfer of ownership on 1 January 2011.

Tanfield, which retains a 49% stake in Smith US, said it would invest the money in growing its core business – the manufacturer of Snorkel cherry pickers.

Chief executive Darren Kell said: “The structure of this transaction offers the best deal for all parties. Tanfield’s Powered Access Division benefits from additional working capital and we create a single, global electric vehicle business that is a market leader in both Europe and North America.”

Smith UK has manufactured zero-emission battery operated commercial vehicles since 1920. In the UK it maintains more than 5,000 electric vehicles for major fleet operators. In 2009 Smith Electric US formed and licensed the technology from Tanfield to introduce the Smith Newton electric delivery vehicle to the US.