Lion Plans Electric Truck Line, Deploys School Buses

May 02, 2018 by Carly Schaffner, @carlyschaffner

An electric bus maker wants to leverage its technology by offering a line of battery-powered trucks later this year.

Lion Electric Co., maker of the electric “eLion” school bus, told Trucks.com it plans to unveil a range of electric trucks in the Class 5-8 weight segments. The first, a Class 8, will make its appearance in December, said Marie Bedard, business relationship manager for the Montreal-based manufacturer.

Bedard said Lion already has orders for the Class 8 truck, which require a $5,000 deposit. She did not disclose the customer names or how many trucks have been ordered.

The company currently has its manufacturing operations in Canada, but Bedard said it plans to open a factory in the U.S. for electric trucks and buses. Lion has narrowed its site selection to three unnamed cities, she said.

Bedard spoke to Trucks.com Tuesday at the ACT Expo green transport conference in Long Beach, Calif., where the company offered a briefing on plans for deploying electric school buses in the U.S. The company has 150 buses operating in North America. That includes 40 in California distributed across 15 school districts.

“We believe that electrifying school buses is the only environmental, social and economical solution that makes possible protecting our most precious capital, our children,” said Marc Bedard, Lion’s founder and chief executive.

California has the largest concentration of electric school buses. The California Air Resources Board incentivizes adoption of clean school bus fleets by offering funding to local school districts.

“Thanks to California Climate Investments, thousands of school kids in remote school districts across California will be riding in the cleanest-running school buses on the market,” said Sandra Berg, a member of the Air Resources Board.

The state has spent $25 million to incentivize school districts to replace conventional school buses with low or zero emissions ones. The California Energy Commission also has spent $75 million.

There also is $250 million in funding set aside for districts in “rural” Northern California areas that take early measures to replace their bus fleets. Additionally, fines totaling $130 million paid by Volkswagen for cheating on diesel emissions in its vehicles are earmarked for green public transportation. Districts opting to swap to clean buses will get a portion of that funding.

Lion plans to expand its bus line. The company will introduce the eLion M paratransit minibus this summer. It’s a shuttle equipped to transport people with disabilities. The vehicle will have a range of between 75 and 150 miles depending upon its configuration. It can be modified for a variety of functions.

“It is very popular already and can be used in so many different ways that we’re calling it our ‘Swiss Army knife’,” said Marc Bedard.

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