As local delivery of large appliances and other goods grows with e-commerce, Canadian startup Lion Electric Co. believes there’s a market for a large electric truck to operate in cities.
That’s why Lion unveiled what it calls a “Class 8 urban truck” at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach on Wednesday.
The Lion8 is an all-electric heavy-duty truck that has a tight turning radius to more easily maneuver within cities and a cab-forward design to improve visibility around bicycles and pedestrians. Being electric, it also generates zero emissions and noise.
The company doesn’t think it makes economic sense to use a truck design for coast-to-coast freight delivery to run less than 200 miles a day making local deliveries.
About half of Class 8 trucks are being used for urban deliveries, said Nate Baguio, vice president of U.S. sales for Lion Electric Co.
“They go someplace, they stop, they’re unloading for a period of time, and they go on to the next stop,” he said.
That is the type of drive cycle that is efficient for an electric truck, he said. The business case for a long-haul electric truck, by comparison, is more difficult because it would require a charging infrastructure along interstate highways. Drivers also won’t want to sit idle while waiting for their trucks to charge.
Designed and manufactured as a purpose-built heavy-duty electric for urban use, the Lion8 takes a modular approach to batteries, allowing buyers to equip them with the appropriate amount for their needs. Offered with a maximum of six battery packs that store 480 kilowatts of power capable of traveling up to 250 miles per charge, the Lion8 can also be built with just four or two battery packs.
“So if you only need to do 125 miles a day, you can accomplish that with fewer batteries at a significantly lower sticker price,” Baguio said.
The Lion8 is also using swappable batteries, “so if you have a truck that’s running nonstop, you could have a rack of batteries charging and swap a battery out in 10 to 15 minutes with a standard forklift.”
At a price of about $400,000 for the 250-mile version, the Lion8 costs significantly more than a diesel Class 8 truck, which runs about $125,000. But Baguio said the Lion8 reduces energy costs by 80 percent and operational costs by about 60 percent.
FIRST CAME A BUS
Based in Quebec, Lion launched two years ago with an all-electric school bus, then added to its lineup with a shuttle bus. “The next evolution,” Baguio said, “was the Class 8 urban truck.”
The Lion8 is already in production and will begin deliveries in the fall. Several companies in Canada and two companies in the U.S. have already placed orders – including the construction supplier Constar Supply in California and C&S Wholesale Grocers, based in New Hampshire.
“The Lion8 will be key to continue to successfully deliver over 140,000 different grocery items to 14,000-plus independent stores in the U.S. in the most sustainable, financially feasible way possible,” said Chris Trajkovski, vice president of transportation fleet maintenance and assets for C&S Wholesale Grocers.