Lion Electric to build battery innovation plant in Québec

The Canadian electric utility vehicle manufacturer Lion Electric announces the construction of a battery plant and innovation centre in Québec, Canada. The plant will produce battery modules and battery packs from supplied cells from 2023.

++ This article has been updated. Kindly continue reading below. ++

Lion Electric plans to announce the location shortly, with construction to “begin in the next few months”. An annual production capacity of 5 GWh is planned – according to Lion Electric, this will enable the electrification of around 14,000 medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles annually. Until now, the manufacturer has sourced its batteries from external suppliers, such as Romeo Power. Lion placed a new major order with the US company in November 2020.

According to Marc Bédard, CEO and founder of Lion Electric, the planned factory will make it possible to integrate a fundamental element into the supply chain of its own electric vehicles. “Thanks to the financing provided by the federal and provincial governments, we will now be able to manufacture in Canada what we previously imported.” The company expects to invest around 185 million Canadian dollars (about 124 million euros), with the federal and provincial governments each contributing 50 million Canadian dollars (just under 34 million euros each).

With the construction of the plant, Lion wants to “significantly reduce” the costs for vehicle production and at the same time take control and optimisation of the battery modules and packs into its own hands. The cells will continue to be sourced from external suppliers. The company describes itself as “the first Canadian medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer to equip itself with its own automated battery pack manufacturing facility, using state-of-the-art technology”.

Lion Electric’s Innovation Centre, also announced, will focus on research and development with the aim of making advances in performance, range, energy capacity and new product development. It will give the company the flexibility it needs to adapt quickly to new technologies, according to an accompanying press release.

Lion Electric is best known in North America for its electric school buses. Based in Saint-Jérôme in the Canadian province of Quebec, the company says it has now delivered more than 300 all-electric school buses in the US and Canada. In 2018, the manufacturer announced the expansion of its range with a whole series of additional e-utility vehicles. Since then, the portfolio has grown to include all-electric trucks in weight classes 5 to 8, i.e. models with a gross vehicle weight of 7.2 tonnes or more.

At the end of 2020, the Canadian company also announced that they would seek to go public through a merger with SPAC company Northern Genesis Acquisition. Upon completion of the transaction, Lion will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol “LEV”. The small print of the SEC notice on the planned IPO also revealed that Lion Electric has a supply agreement with Amazon under wraps. The online retailer plans to procure up to 2,500 battery-electric Lion6 and Lion8 trucks by 2025.

Lion Electric presented the Lion8 in spring 2018. It is an electric truck of the US vehicle class 8, which corresponds to local trucks over 15 tonnes. The 350 kW Lion8 offers a battery capacity of up to 480 kWh for up to 400 km range, using NMC cells from LG Chem. The Lion6 is analogously a US Class 6 vehicle of 8.84 tonnes and above. Not much is known about this vehicle yet.

Update 04 June 2021: Lion Electric’s announced battery plant will be located at the YMX International Aerocity in Mirabel City in the Canadian province of Québec, which is the site of Montreal-Mirabel Airport. The $185 million Canadian facility is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2022, as reported above, and will offer an annual production capacity of 5 GWh. The site is to be developed starting this June.

Earlier in May, Lion Electric had selected the city of Joliet in Illinois as the site for its vehicle plant in the US, which is expected to offer annual production capacity for up to 20,000 all-electric buses and trucks from the second half of 2022. At the same time, Lion Electric announced its IPO. (update as PDF)


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