resim 71
resim 71

After having injected more than 600 million over the past seven years into the construction of three plants in Saint-Jérôme, Chicago and Mirabel, Lion Electric will reach the end of its capital expenditure by the end of 2023. The manufacturer of he electric buses and trucks now devotes its energies to increasing the production rate of its industrial facilities while making sure to maintain methodical growth.

“We delivered 500 vehicles last year, including 174 in the fourth quarter. We have increased the production rate in each of the last five quarters, we are executing our plan, ”explains Marc Bédard, CEO and co-founder of Lion Electric with his colleague Camille Chartrand, a former executive of the Corbeil bus manufacturer.

After a guided and detailed tour of the 200,000 square foot factory in Saint-Jérôme, formerly occupied by hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer, Marc Bédard, a former partner at Price Waterhouse, received me in a conference to take stock of Lion Electric’s activities.

The company has been regularly talked about in the media since it started building school buses and electric trucks.

The first Lion Electric school bus rolled out of the Saint-Jérôme factory in 2016 and since then the group has assembled more than 1,000 vehicles, including 500 in its last fiscal year. The company started building electric trucks a year and a half ago, and the plant’s production capacity will be 2,500 vehicles per year.

Last December, the company assembled its first electric vehicles at its Channahon plant near Chicago, which was built to serve the US market while taking advantage of the country’s generous transportation electrification grant programs. United States government. The American plant will eventually be able to produce up to 2,500 vehicles per year.

Two weeks ago, Lion Electric inaugurated its new battery assembly plant for its electric vehicles in Mirabel, which will eventually be able to power up to 14,000 vehicles per year.

“We are a growing company, but growing organized. A company that goes from 500 vehicles to 10,000 in a year, I don’t believe in that. Since we launched this project, we have spent more than 600 million, but here we are coming to the end of investment spending, ”explains Marc Bédard.

Lion Electric went public in 2021 with $500 million in funding at a price of $10 per share. The stock quickly reached $28 before falling back below $3, putting pressure on company executives.

“Sure investors can get angry, but I can just execute the plan, I don’t have control over the stock price. We are building on growth and we are putting in place an operation that will be solid and profitable,” says Marc Bédard.

Did the company embrace it too broadly by jumping into building electric trucks when it had no customers and hadn’t yet accomplished the ramp-up of its manufacturing line? school bus?

Lion Electric’s order book is progressing well with, according to the latest statement, some 2,400 vehicles to be delivered, including 2,000 school buses.

“We are currently manufacturing Class 6 trucks with 20-26 foot boxes and Class 8 straight trucks. We will soon begin manufacturing Class 8 tractor trucks, capable of pulling trailers, and smaller trucks with class 5”, summarizes the CEO of Lion Electric.

The school bus market in North America is made up of some 45,000 vehicles and the vehicle replacement rate is around 10% per year.

“More and more of them are going electric, and not just for environmental reasons. The operating costs are significantly better than those of diesel buses and the governments in Quebec, Canada and the United States subsidize school bus carriers,” underlines Marc Bédard.

In the United States, school buses are highly sought after for fleet renewal in the states of California and New York, and the movement is slowly spreading to other regions.

There are four major manufacturers that are relatively evenly matched in North America, but Lion Electric is the one with the largest manufacturing capacity, continues the president.

The company has a work force of nearly 1,400 employees, including 300 who form its engineering group, 700 who work at the Saint-Jérôme plant and more than a hundred who provide sales support at Terrebonne.

“In addition to our battery plant in Mirabel, we built our vehicle innovation and pre-inspection center as well as our test track right next door. We haven’t been bored over the past few years,” notes Marc Bédard with hindsight.


Marc Bedard

Power Energy Corporation (Power Corporation) 35%, Marc Bédard 12%, Pierre Wilkie (board member) 4.59%, Invesco 2.31%