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New plant opens near Joliet to produce electric school buses and trucks

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(The Center Square) – There is a new electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Illinois.

Lion Electric’s new plant, which will make all-electric vehicles like trucks and school buses, opened Friday near Joliet. The company based in Quebec, Canada, expects the facility to produce 2,500 electric school buses by the end of this year, and about 20,000 vehicles a year when fully operational.

“Companies like Lion have recognized the many resources Illinois provides, including our uniquely talented workforce, and together we have set the state on a path to thousands more jobs and increased EV capacity,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program, as part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides $5 billion in federal tax funds over the next five years to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. In April, Illinois EPA announced $27 million in funding for all-electric school buses, giving priority school districts up to $395,000 per electric school bus to be used for the bus and the associated charging.

The Lion facility is expected to employ 1,400 skilled workers.

“Lion Electric is an extraordinary partner and represents more than the new jobs and investment they are bringing to Will County and to Illinois,” said Doug Pryor, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development. “As a leading manufacturer of all-electric buses and trucks, Lion represents an important step forward, continuing Joliet and Chicagoland’s proud manufacturing tradition by supporting a growing EV and clean energy cluster.”

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said Lion Electric school buses will be seen all over the country.

“Because of this clean school bus program, thousands of Illinois-made buses will be taking kids to school across America, and none of these kids will have to breathe diesel fumes on that ride,” Durbin said.

The 900,000-square-foot facility is the largest all-electric U.S. plant dedicated to medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle production, officials said.

“Today’s event is monumental for Illinois as Lion Electric is the first company to make electric buses in the state,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

The facility is the first dedicated vehicle assembly plant to open in the greater Chicago area since 1965, when the Belvidere Chrysler plant opened.

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