On its first day of public trading, Canada’s Lion Electric Co. made good on a pledge to expand manufacturing in the U.S., investing  $70 million to convert a partially finished warehouse in Joliet, Illinois, into a plant to build electric trucks and buses.

At least 745 new jobs are expected to be created over the next three years.

Lion, based in St. Jerome, Quebec, is expected to receive about $490 million after expenses in a business combination completed Thursday with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Lion is using $90 million of the proceeds to retire debt.

The company began trading Friday on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the symbol LEV.

Becoming a player in the electric trucking space after building mostly electric buses, Lion’s customers include Amazon and CN. It purchases battery cells from Los Angeles-based Romeo Power Technologies (NYSE: RMO), another de-SPACed startup.

Investment could grow to $130M

Lion’s three-year investment is part of an agreement with the state. Lion spokesman Patrick Gervias told FreightWaves the total investment could rise to $130 million. 

Vehicle manufacturing in the 900,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin in the second half of the year. The first vehicles are expected in the second half of 2022.  

Annual capacity is 20,000 electric trucks and buses. Lion competes in electric buses with  SPAC-backed Proterra, which this week delivered its 50th Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus for Daimler Trucks North America’s Thomas Built Buses subsidiary. Lion has delivered more than 390 electric vehicles — 90% school buses — since its founding as Lion Bus in 2011.

The additional production capacity will help Lion scale electric bus production as the U.S. expands electric vehicle manufacturing urged by President Joe Biden. Additional incentives for electric vehicles are expected to put them on more consumer and corporate shopping lists.

Lion’s purpose-built electric vehicles have accumulated more than 7 million miles since 2016, the company said.

Related articles:

Lion Electric SPAC wins shareholder approval

IKEA to electrify last-mile delivery in Canada with Lion Electric

Ready to roar: Lion Electric delivers first trucks next month

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.