First American-made LionC zero-emission electric school bus rolls off the production line in Illinois

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As electric school buses gain momentum in the United States, Lion Electric announced on Wednesday that it has produced its first “Made in America” LionC zero-emission school bus at its plant in Joliet, Illinois.

In May 2021, Lion Electric chose Joliet, Illinois to house its future US manufacturing facility. The 900,000 square foot factory was billed as the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles in the United States.

Lion Electric has been a pioneer in fully electric medium and heavy duty vehicles like EV school buses with over 12 years of experience now.

Even before the all-inclusive mindset spread around the world on electric vehicles and zero-emission technology to limit the environmental impact of the transportation sector, Lion was focused entirely on electrification. The company’s dedication has paid off, with more than 700 electric vehicles on the road 10 million miles using its platforms.

Lion has several major customers across North America for its electric trucks (Amazon, Ikea) and buses (First Student, LA USD, STA, National Express, ZUM).

To help customers convert to electricity, Lion offers a complete turnkey solution, including electric vehicle selection, charging infrastructure, subsidy assistance, financing, training, maintenance and communications.

Until now, Lion has manufactured its electric vehicles at its dedicated 200,000 square foot factory near Montreal, Quebec, which also serves as its headquarters and R&D center. With the site having an annual production capacity of 2,500 EVs, Lion is expanding its manufacturing footprint to meet the growing demand for electric school buses in the United States with its Joliet plant.

During its second quarter results, Lion said it was on track to produce its first electric school buses at its US-based plant by the end of the year, and today, the company takes this assertion into account.

Lion Electric LionC Zero Emission School Bus Source: Lion Electric

The first Lion electric school bus produced in the United States

“Today is an important milestone for Lion,” said Eric Pansegrau, General Manager of Lion’s Joliet Plant, as the first LionC electric school bus rolls off the line.

With recent U.S. climate and funding initiatives, Lion Electric is “well positioned to support school districts in their transition,” offering their comprehensive grid approach. For example, the EPA Clean School Bus program (part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act) provides $5 billion in funding to accelerate the deployment of electric school buses in the United States. The first round of nearly $1 billion has just been awarded to 289 school districts.

On top of that, several cities and states have committed to electric school buses, such as New York, which plans to electrify 100% of its school bus fleet by 2035.

Mr. Pansegrau continued:

We are excited to now enter the ramp-up phase of production, initially focusing on the LionC all-electric school bus. We will spare no effort in the gradual scaling up of manufacturing, which we believe will be spread over the next few quarters.

Lion expects its Joliet plant to have an annual production capacity of 20,000 electric buses and trucks after scaling up its manufacturing operations. The site will initially focus on electric school buses to meet growing demand.

Electrek’s Grasp

Lion Electric producing its first electric school bus in the United States is a remarkable achievement for the company and the overall transition to fully electric vehicles.

As my colleague Fred Lambert said, Lion is the perfect example of how businesses can embrace the shift to electric vehicles. Lion was relatively small compared to other school bus manufacturers, but its early interest in electric propulsion propelled it to become one of North America’s leading school bus manufacturers.

With the LionC E school bus now produced in the United States, I hope it can accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles for school districts.

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