After months of speculation, the Lion Electric Company selected Joliet, Illinois, as the location of its new 900,000-square-foot production facility.
The Quebec-based manufacturer receives a $7.9 million tax credit in return for $70 million in capital investments, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Lion Electric made the announcement on Friday, even as stock shares began to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading closed for the weekend at $17.76 per share.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was later joined in-person during a press conference by Nate Baguio, Lion Electric’s vice president of sales, and via video chat by Marc Bedard, the company’s CEO and founder.
Pritzker noted that the plant will be the largest dedicated electric vehicle production site in the U.S. Construction has already begun, with the facility expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Bedard commented that his company anticipates the first EVs will roll off the production line during the second half of 2022. Lion Electric has said that the facility will eventually produce 20,000 electric school buses and trucks a year. This will include the LionA, LionC and LionD school buses as well as the LionM low-floor bus 11 models of electric trucks.
In the short term, the plant will employ at least 700 employees, with the possibility that the number could eventually grow to 1,400 workers. Bedard said the Joliet facility will “form the backbone of the American green economy.”
He also noted the close proximity of the plant, located about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, to major highways and railways, is key to building a major supply chain network.
Lion Electric is also constructing a manufacturing and battery production facility in Quebec.
In answering a question from a member of the media, Pritzker drew the correlation between the Lion Electric announcement and the takeover of an old Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois by electric adventure vehicle manufacturer Rivian in 2019.
“This is a big deal,” Pritzker said. “We are building an ecosystem in a particular industry.”
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Pritzker added that his state eyes the possibility of being the U.S. leader in EV production. Illinois aims to eventually see 1 million EVs produced a year by 2030. Last week, Pritzker also announced a $15 million investment in the creation of two academies that will train the local electric vehicle manufacturing workforce.
Previously, Illinois also earmarked the $89 million it received from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund entirely for EV purchases.