Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker joined elected officials and the Lion Electric Company — a Canadian based manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles — to announce a significant investment in Illinois, with plans to build the company’s first-ever U.S. manufacturing facility and the largest plant of its kind in the country. A minimum of $70 million will be invested to build a new facility dedicated to producing medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S. The facility is expected to come online in the second half of 2022, setting into motion annual production capacity of 20,000 zero-emission vehicles a year, and creating at least 745 jobs for Illinoisans.
“Lion’s historic investment to bring its largest production facility to Illinois represents not only a win for our communities, but a strong step forward in our work to expand clean energy alternatives and the jobs they bring to our communities,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The new Joliet facility will put Illinois at the forefront of a national movement to transition to zero-emission vehicle use, advancing our own goals of putting one million of these cars on the road by 2030. In Illinois, we know that a clean energy economy is about more than just vehicles – it’s about healthier communities and jobs for those who live there. We are excited to welcome Lion to the Land of Lincoln and look forward to their future success here.”
The new 900,000 SF facility represents Lion Electric’s largest dedicated production site in the U.S. The company’s expansion helps respond to increasing demand in the marketplace for “Made in America” zero-emission vehicles, while simultaneously bringing production closer to its customers. Lion’s investments also help bring Illinois closer to its own clean energy goals, with plans to increase adoption of EV’s in the state to one million by 2030.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion. “This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy. I also want to acknowledge the crucial role that P33 and Intersect Illinois, civic groups committed to developing a long-term roadmap for the local tech industry, played in connecting Lion with the Chicago area’s business and civic community to help further commercial traction, as well as engagement with key workforce and supplier partners.”
To support the company in its decision to locate a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) worked with the State’s public-private economic development partner, Intersect Illinois to put together a exhaustive site selection process that involved both virtual and in-person site visits, economic analysis, and coordination with local officials and utilities to develop a comprehensive proposal for Lion Electric. The company has qualified for the State’s EDGE incentive program, a tool to support companies making large-scale capital investments that lead to significant job creation. As part of its agreement with the government of Illinois, Lion has committed to initial investment of at least $70 million over a 3-year period. The company is working with local officials to apply for additional local incentives.
“Lion’s decision to bring their first U.S. production facility to Illinois is great news for Illinois residents and a welcome addition to our growing EV manufacturing sector,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are making investments today in workforce training and infrastructure that provide global companies like Lion the confidence needed to bring long-term investments and clean energy jobs to our great state. We welcome Lion Electric to Illinois and look forward to working alongside the company and all our local partners to support its continued growth and success in the years to come.”
The Will County region has a rich history of manufacturing, and Lion plans to build a robust local supply chain within the area. In addition, the Joliet location offers Lion a geographically centralized base of manufacturing and operations, with access to key infrastructure and distribution channels.
“This major investment by Lion Electric Company is great news for Joliet, Will County, and the entire state,” said U.S. Representative Bill Foster (IL-11). “Not only will this new facility mean several hundreds of new, good-paying manufacturing jobs, but it will be the largest plant in the country building all-electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles. This investment capitalizes on the world-class infrastructure, well trained workforce, and nearby expertise in leading-edge green technology in the southwest suburbs. As a scientist and businessman, I was proud to work with Governor Pritzker to help recruit Lion Electric to Illinois, and I’m proud that effort has led to an investment that will bring meaningful economic benefits to our community.”
“The Lion Electric Company development is a welcome addition to the City of Joliet. The facility is going to have a tremendous impact on our local economy by the immense investment dollars and creation of high paying skilled labor positions,” said Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, City of Joliet. “Furthermore, this is an indicator that the City of Joliet and State of Illinois can compete on a national level for major employers and manufacturers who are seeking to grow. Thank you to Governor Pritzker for all his efforts in making this happen.”
“The Village of Channahon supports economic development in the region and the job opportunities it creates for our residents, and we welcome these opportunities to help lead Illinois into the future,” said Mayor Missey Moorman Schumacher, Village of Channahon. “This also underscores the necessity to ensure our public infrastructure, particularly this stretch US Route 6, is ready to meet not only the needs of this new investment but to maintain accessibility, safety and quality of life for those businesses and residents that have made the decision to call our region home. We welcome this new neighbor, appreciate their interest and investment in our region, and look forward to continuing success.”
“Will County is excited Lion Electric will be joining our business community,” said Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Will County Executive. “We are proud of our strong workforce and look forward to partnering with Lion as we welcome the next generation of manufacturing jobs to our county.”
“We are excited to welcome the Lion Electric Company to Joliet and Will County,” said Hugh O’Hara, Executive Director of the Will County Governmental League. “It is great to see that our communities are able to attract this type of innovative company to Illinois, and with it new jobs. We look forward to being on the cutting edge of electric vehicles.”
This additional production capacity will aid Lion in scaling electric bus production as the U.S. market moves to electrify a large portion of its school bus fleet, as well as to produce a larger number of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks as governments and operators throughout the U.S. look to decarbonize freight and transportation fleets. Lion anticipates that the first vehicles will roll off the production line in the second half of 2022.
Over the last decade, Lion has established itself as a leader in the zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle industry, having delivered over 390 all-electric heavy-duty vehicles in North America with over 7 million miles driven since 2016. All of Lion’s vehicles are purpose-built for electric propulsion from the ground up, assembled in North America and are distributed and serviced through the Company’s network of Experience Centers, including locations in California, New York, Washington, Florida and Arizona.
Illinois is poised for strong growth in the EV sector in the years ahead, with industry experts predicting EV jobs to double by 2024. To ensure Illinois has a pipeline of skilled talent to meet demands, the State of Illinois recently announced a $15 million investment to develop two Manufacturing Training Academies that will help boost skills training for a variety of jobs supporting growth of the manufacturing industry, including training for electric vehicle manufacturing.