Ready to roar: Lion Electric delivers first trucks next month

A rendering of a Lion Electric truck with an Amazon logo. Lion plans to deliver its first trucks in October.

Lion Electric Co. plans to deliver its first battery-powered electric trucks in October as high-profile orders from CN and Amazon buoy the Canadian manufacturer. 

The Quebec-based company plans to have at least 50 of its Class 6 and Class 8 trucks in service by the end of the year, including two of 10 to Amazon. Production at Lion’s Montreal-area plant is ramping up to fulfill what the company says are hundreds of orders.

If Lion keeps to its schedule, it will deliver its first truck only a year-and-a half after announcing the Lion8. The company says it can make up to 2,500 trucks per year, and plans to build a second plant in the United States.

Lion’s decision to use the same type of lithium battery technology that powers more than 300 of its school buses also appears to be paying off. It’s something all the more notable in a week that saw Executive Chairman Trevor Milton resign from Nikola Corp. amid allegations that he misled investors about its hydrogen-electric vehicles in development.

“We’re not selling dreams,” Patrick Gervais, a Lion Electric vice president, told FreightWaves.

Company gets boost from Amazon, CN orders

A Lion Electric Lion 8 electric truck with a CN intermodal trailer. CN has ordered 50 of the electric trucks.
CN intends to use Lion Electric’s battery-powered trucks for intermodal operations in major urban centers. (Photo: Lion Electric Co.)

While Lion’s boxy urban delivery trucks haven’t generated nearly as much buzz as the likes of forthcoming vehicles from Tesla and Nikola, big companies are taking notice. 

Lion announced on Wednesday that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) had ordered 10 of its Lion6 model. That followed a 50-truck Lion8 order from CN (NYSE:CNI), the company’s largest to date.   

“It’s very encouraging when a company like Amazon decides to purchase your trucks,” Gervais said.

Amazon plans to use the trucks for middle-mile operations as part of its Climate Pledge initiative. While a small order, it represents a potential windfall for Lion if Amazon decides to adopt the trucks on a massive scale.

Lion currently produces all of its vehicles at its Quebec factory. The company plans to open a facility somewhere in the U.S in 2022. (Lion is looking at sites in several states, Gervais said.)

Under the hood of Lion’s electric trucks

The Lion8 is on the smaller end of Class 8 trucks, with a curb weight of 24,600 pounds and a gross vehicle weight 54,600 pounds. The truck has a maximum speed of 65 mph and 250-mile range. The smaller Lion6 has a 180-mile range.

Lion likely will face the most direct competition from Freightliner’s electric trucks, the Class 8 eCascadia and Class 6 eM2 106. 

Lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries power Lion’s trucks. The company sources the batteries’ suppliers in Europe and Asia, primarily Korea. Lion assembles the battery packs themselves, which run on an in-house battery management system. 

The one zero-emissions compromise the company offers is an optional diesel heater for the cab. It preserves battery capacity during the winter time, while still keeping the cabin warm.

But Lion is working on a battery-powered solution that keeps the cab warm without sacrificing range, Gervais said.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Nate Tabak

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