Montreal-based Lion Electric, the all-electric truck and bus manufacturer, has announced plans to open a new US manufacturing facility in Joliet, Illinois. The company has committed to invest at least $70m over a three-year period as part of an agreement with the state government. The 900,000ft2 facility will be the country’s largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles, with an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all-electric buses and trucks.

The new factory will help the company meet increasing demand for ‘Made in America’ zero-emission vehicles, while bringing production closer to its customers. Building ramp up is expected in the second half of 2021 and a minimum of 745 clean energy jobs will be created in the region by 2024. Lion anticipates that the first vehicles will roll off the production line in the second half of 2022.

In a press release, chief executive officer Marc Bedard said: “This significant expansion into the US 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.” In addition, the location offers access to key infrastructure and distribution channels.

Bedard continued: “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.”

Governor of Illinois JB Pritzker welcomed the news, saying: “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.”