Quebec-based electric school bus and truck manufacturer Lion Electric is citing a friendly operating environment in its decision last week to locate a US$70-million manufacturing plant in Illinois, a move expected to create about 750 jobs over the next three years.
“We’re looking for regulatory tailwinds that will be favourable to electric,” CEO Marc Bédard told Reuters Friday. The company is also negotiating state tax credits, the news agency adds.
“Lion, known for its electric yellow school buses, said it will build the 900,000-square-foot facility in Joliet, near Chicago, to produce 20,000 electric buses and medium- and heavy-duty trucks per year,” Reuters writes. The plant is expected to go online in the second half of next year, and may eventually add battery production to its vehicle manufacturing line.
In March, Lion announced a C$185-million battery pack assembly plant and headquarters in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, after the federal and provincial governments each invested $50 million in the new venture. At the time, industry newsletter Electric Autonomy said there’d been months of speculation that Lion would set up shop in the U.S., after arranging financing with Kansas City-based Northern Genesis and signalling that it would try for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
But “thanks to the financing provided by the federal and provincial governments, we will now be able to manufacture in Canada what we previously imported,” Bédard said in a release. “Lion, Quebec, and Canada will gain from this, both on the economic and environmental fronts, to the great benefit of generations to come.”
The upbeat tone was much the same for last week’s announcement in Illinois. “Bédard said Lion is expanding in the United States when there is growing demand among school districts and companies to switch to electric transportation,” Reuters writes. “Nearly 400 of the company’s electric school buses are on the road and Amazon.com Inc. has said it will buy up to 2,500 trucks from Lion by 2025.”
The announcement “also coincides with a favourable regulatory environment under U.S. President Joe Biden, who has pushed for providing generous subsidies to the EV industry,” the news agency adds.