The Lion Electric Company, a Canadian-based manufacturer of all-electric medium- and heavy-duty urban vehicles, has selected Joliet, Illinois, for the construction of its U.S. manufacturing facility.
The new facility will represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the U.S., according to the company, and Lion’s biggest footprint in the market. As part of its agreement with the government of Illinois, Lion has committed to an initial investment of at least $70 million over a three-year period.
The 900,000 sq.-ft. facility, for which building ramp up is anticipated in the second half of 2021, is expected to have an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all-electric buses and trucks.
This additional production capacity will aid Lion in scaling electric bus production as the U.S. market moves to electrify a large portion of its school bus fleet, as well as to produce a larger number of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks as governments and operators throughout the U.S. look to decarbonize freight and transportation fleets. Lion anticipates that the first vehicles will roll off the production line in the second half of 2022.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company," said Marc Bedard, CEO and founder of Lion, in a news release. "This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy."
In a press conference on May 7, the same day Lion traded as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the move an important part of the state's commitment to the electric vehicle industry. Illinois has a goal of 1 million EVs operating in the state by 2030.
“We’re thinking big when it comes to building our EV industry, and Lion Electric is an important new partner in that," Pritzker said.
While Lion's Bedard was not able to be there in person due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, he participated virtually, saying the move will help Lion meet demand for made-in-America products and also bring its manufacturing closer to its customer base.
"We have been manufacturing electric buses since 2016 and have the tarck record and the resources to drive the electrification process in Illinois and everywhere across North America," he said.
The facility will be manufacturing a full lineup of Class 5 to 8 vehicles, designed for urban operations with ranges of less than 250 miles. This includes school and transit buses, delivery trucks, refuse trucks, bucket trucks, moving trucks, etc.
"We have seven different models that we are selling right now, and the Joliet facility will produce up to 15 models over the next two years," he said – four bus models and 11 truck models.
Over the past decade, Lion has delivered more than 390 all-electric heavy-duty vehicles in North America, with more than 7 million miles driven since 2016. All of Lion’s vehicles are purpose-built for electric propulsion from the ground up, assembled in North America and are distributed and serviced through the company’s network of Experience Centers, including locations in California, New York, Washington, Florida, and Arizona.