KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Auto Show 2013 is underway at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo.
New cars and trucks are on display enticing consumers to try and buy. The Auto Show is a small fraction of the overall importance of the auto industry in Kansas City; an industry that is growing and boosting the economy in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
The true auto industries economic power-houses are the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Mo., with 3,877 employees, and the Ford plant in Claycomo, Mo., with 4,438 workers.
To demonstrate how the auto industry is making a comeback, look at the Conklin Fangman General Motors dealership in Kansas City, Mo. It's a true come-back success story. It was closed in 2009 after General Motors declared bankruptcy and reopened one year later. Forty of the 65 employees who were laid-off when it shut-down were re-hired.
"It was a struggle at the beginning," Conklin's general manager David Hughes said.
"But now, business is like it was before the economic crisis," Hughes explained. "Consumers are willing to buy new cars and they want all the latest technology."
However, businesses are thirsty for electric vehicles and that's good economic news for Smith Vehicles in Kansas City, Mo. The company manufactures electric vehicles companies use for short-distance transportation.
"We started our company in January 2009 here in Kansas City with no employees. Now we have 120 full-time workers," said Bryan Hansel, Smith CEO.
He explained that operating an electric vehicle is almost 80 percent cheaper than a diesel vehicle. Companies like Frito Lay, FedEx and Coca Cola are their largest customers.
"We feel good about being able to hire people and contribute to the economy; but we feel very good about the environmental benefits to the community our products provide," Hansel explained.
The electric vehicles made at Smith are environmentally friendly because they do not crate the exhaust crated by diesel vehicles.
"At the end of the day, we go home feeling great because we know we made a difference," Hansel concluded.