CN buying 50 trucks from Lion Electric

by Steve Bouchard, Truck News, and Inside Logistics Staff
CN will be using Lion Electric trucks in its intermodal yards. (photo: Steve Bouchard)

MONTREAL – CN will be buying 50 new electric trucks from Lion Electric to add to its intermodal terminals fleet.

In April of 2019, CN launched a pilot program to test the use of custom-built electric trucks engineered by Quebec-based The Lion Electric Co. These zero-emission trucks, slated for intermodal use, will be tested in a variety of situations and environments across the CN network, from urban delivery, container shuttle service, to port operations.

“Since being privatized 25 years ago, CN has cut gas emissions from its locomotives by almost 40 percent, and we are always looking for innovative ways to go even further. That’s why we’re here today,” CN president and CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said during a media event on Monday.

“We are striving to reduce our carbon emissions by 29 percent by 2030 from 2015 levels. Innovation and new technologies play a very important role in achieving this kind of goal.”

The first of the 50 trucks will be delivered in just over a year and will be based in locations including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, said Yves Provencher, senior director of business development for Lion. Some could also be based in Chicago.

Lion will work with CN to determine the best applications for the trucks, too.

“This will dictate, for example, how many batteries will be required. If, for example, trucks travel short distances but carry very heavy loads, few batteries will be installed, while if they travel long distances but with light loads, more batteries can be installed. That’s a bit of what remains to be determined,” Provencher said.

News of the order will also help to boost Lion’s profile, Provencher said.

“When a company decides to invest between $20 and 30 million to buy trucks, it is obviously a good showcase for us.”

The good news is especially welcome as the Quebec-based manufacturer emerges from restrictions associated with Covid-19.

“The pandemic has greatly affected our projects. For a while the factory was shut down and the only thing that kept running was building prototype vehicles, but our regular manufacturing operations were on hold for quite a while,” said president and founder Marc Bedard.

“It was difficult for us and for the employees, as half of them had to be on temporary layoff.”

Even today, close to 150 employees are working remotely.

Lion is currently assembling one vehicle per day and looks to double that pace in the near future.

“There are deliveries of Lion8 straight trucks which will begin in October, and that will be very soon,” Bedard said, noting that details about those deliveries will emerge in a few weeks.

The Lion Electric Co. manufactures zero-emission vehicles. It create, design, and manufacture all-electric class 5 to class 8 commercial urban trucks and all-electric buses and minibuses for the school, paratransit, and mass transit markets. Lion is a North American leader in electric OEM and designs, builds, and assembles all its vehicles’ main components: chassis, battery sets, truck cabins and bus bodies.

Earlier this year the SAQ, Quebec’s alcohol retailer, announced it was buying the first Lion Electric Class 8 straight truck. The truck is custom-built and engineered in Quebec to withstand North American weather and road conditions.

The trucks are also being adopted in the waste collection market. Waste Connections, Inc. has purchased two Lion8 chassis with fully automated side load bodies from the Lion Electric Co. (Lion) and Boivin Evolution (BEV) partnership.

The introduction of these electric vehicles into markets in Vancouver, Washington, and Miami, Florida, by the end of 2020 will represent the first applications of zero-emission trucks with fully electric waste collection bodies and automated arms in North America.