The Lion Electric Company, manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles based in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, has received a conditional purchase order from Student Transportation of Canada for 1,000 of its electric LionC school buses, potentially the biggest deal yet for zero-emission school buses in North America.
Agreed provisionally, the purchase order would see 1,000 all-electric LionC school buses delivered to the STC between 2022 and the first half of 2026, effectively replacing large quotas of the diesel-powered examples currently in use across Canada’s fleet.
STC has stated though that the purchase order is conditional at present, pending confirmation of an approved, non-repayable grant from Infrastructure Canada’s ‘Zero-Emission Transit Fund’ (ZETF) for which STC has officially applied. In support of electrification for public transit and school bus operators, the Government of Canada has already pledged to invest $2.75 billion across the next five years.
“We are pleased to support electric school bus deployment in Canada,” STC President Chris Harwood explained in an official statement. “The ZETF enables school bus electrification to move closer to reality, with students as the true beneficiaries.
“There is still much more work to be done, but STC recognizes that as global stewards we must act to operate sustainably. Electrification is a huge step toward improving the environment for our students and the communities we serve. We look forward to working with Lion, government leaders, our majority shareholder CDPQ and our customers. Together, we hope to move toward a sustainable future.”
Founded in 2011, Lion Electric’s product line-up boasts three disparate zero-emission school buses (LionsA, C and D) as well as an all-purpose consumer minibus (LionM) and two commercial trucks (Lions6 and 8). The California/Quebec-based manufacturer previously agreed to terms with Amazon in 2020 to deliver 10 electric trucks for the former’s ‘middle-mile trucking operations.’
Purpose-built to be 100 per cent electric and capable of seating up to 77 passengers, the LionC is powered by a SUMO-MD electric motor that produces up to 250kW (around 335hp) and a hefty 1800 lb-ft of torque, on par if not higher than its diesel equivalent. Admittedly, the cost is a gross vehicle weight ‘up to 33,000 lbs’ or just shy of 15 tons. Topping out at 60mph – or 96 km/h – the electric motor produces up to 250 km of all-electric range, depending on battery capacity.
Alongside claims that its all-electric school buses eliminate 23 tons of greenhouse gases (approximately five cars’ worth) from the atmosphere, and theoretically reduces maintenance costs by up to 60 per cent over their diesel counterparts, Lion Electric hopes that school bus electrification will also instill an environmental preservation message on the younger Canadian generation travelling aboard them every morning.