The Lion Electric Company will soon manufacture its own lithium-ion batteries for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, which includes school buses.
The first of its kind in Canada, the 175,000 square-foot facility located at the YMX International Aerocity of Mirabel, Quebec will power electric vehicles assembled by Lion at its Quebec and Joliet, Illinois manufacturing plants.
The first battery pack was reportedly completed at the end of 2022, and the company said it expects final certification in the first half of this year. Lion added a gradual production ramp-up will follow later this year, with the first batteries powering the LionC and LionD school buses as well as the Lion5 trucks.
The new facility is targeted to reach a production capacity of 1.7 gigawatt hours by the end of this year, and at scale it should have an annual production of 5 gigawatt hours.
“This would enable Lion to electrify approximately 14,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles per year, depending on the vehicle mix,” a press release states.
Additionally, all of Lion’s vehicles are purpose-built for electric propulsion. Once the Quebec and Illinois factories are at full capacity, the company said it expects to be able to manufacture 22,5000 electric buses and trucks per year.
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Tom Meyer, the communications manager for the World Resources Institute Electric School Bus Initiative, added that increasing electric school bus manufacturing capacity will be crucial to meeting the increasing demand for zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school buses, driven by record federal funding, led by the five-year, $5-billion U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean School Bus Program. The latest grant opportunity was announced Monday.
“This new battery facility is another sign of the growing electrification momentum and, as the facility is expected to support increased manufacturing in Illinois, is a demonstration of economic benefits for U.S. communities,” he added. “It also showcases the growing trend of vertical integration to secure supply chains amongst vehicle manufacturers.”
On April 20, WRI published a blog by Vishant Kothari, a manager on WRI’s Global Electric Mobility team, that shares the importance of ensuring a sustainable future for electric school bus batteries. The article discusses end of life for electric school bus batteries and how EV batteries can go through three different pathways once they reach end of useful life in the vehicles, such as through second-life use, recycling or disposal in a landfill or waste management facility.
WRI is also tracking legislation for states looking to transition to all-electric school bus fleets. Among those states are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington. New York’s mandate is already in effect and requires school districts to only purchase zero-emission school buses beginning in 2027 and to operate 100-percent, zero-emissions fleets by 2035.