The Lion Electric Company has opened its 900,000-square-foot Joliet, Illinois, facility – which it says is the largest all-electric U.S. plant dedicated to medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle production. Located about an hour from Chicago, the facility is expected to have a manufacturing capacity of 2,500 all-electric school buses at the end of 2023. At full scale, the plant has an estimated production capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year in a combination of both buses and trucks, which the company estimates should require around 1,400 skilled workers.
Lion Electric said it chose Illinois for the state’s resources, its central proximity to customers and the domestic supply base.
“We are at the forefront of a manufacturing rebirth in the United States, and together, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his team, industry stakeholders and EV advocates, we are creating the next era of transportation in the Midwest, with a critical need to reduce carbon emissions, strengthen the region’s economic vitality and support sustainability,” said Marc Bédard, CEO-founder of Lion Electric.
Dignitaries, customers, media, financial analysts, partners and team members attended the opening ceremonym which was celebrated with a day-long event that kicked-off with a press conference and diesel fuel hose (ribbon) cutting ceremony. U.S. and Illinois government officials that took part included: Terry D’Arcy, mayor of Joliet; Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker; Sen. Richard (Dick) Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Nearly 150 students from the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago and Com Ed’s Youth Ambassador Program attended the event to learn about future job opportunities in the green economy.
“Lion Electric has been a stalwart partner in building Illinois’ nation-leading electric vehicle manufacturing industry– creating a sustainable network of good-paying jobs that support our communities, while also making our state cleaner and greener,” Gov. Pritzker said. “This new facility is a shining example of what smart investments and partnerships between the public and private sectors can create, and I congratulate Lion Electric and their partners on the official opening.”
The official opening included tours of Lion’s new school bus production line, a truck and bus ride and exploring innovative all-electric bodied-up Lion truck applications that were on display. Argonne National Laboratory and Joliet Junior College, which are partnering with Lion on research programs and workforce training and development, were also present at the celebration. Guests were also treated to an exclusive first look at the LionD, Lion Electric’s Type-D school bus prototype that is expected to officially debut later in 2023.