Lion Electric opens U.S. truck and bus plant

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by Emily Atkins

The Lion Electric Company has opened its 900,000 square-foot Joliet, Illinois, production facility.

The 9000,000 square foot plant is located about an hour from Detroit.

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 Lion estimates should require around 1,400 skilled workers.

It is the largest U.S. plant dedicated to all-electric medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle production.

Dignitaries, customers, media, financial analysts, partners, and team members attended this historic opening, which was celebrated with a daylong event that kicked-off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was also attended by nearly 150 students from the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago and Com Ed’s Youth Ambassador Program, to learn about future job opportunities in the green economy. The students toured the factory, heard from Lion’s technicians, assembly workers and staff about the electric vehicle industry and experienced riding in a zero-emission LionC school bus.

 “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,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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 opening included guests touring 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.

“Today’s event is monumental for Illinois as Lion Electric is the first company to make electric buses in the state,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturing is the single largest share of our economy and Lion will help grow a rich and historic legacy of manufacturing.”