Lion Electric makes noise with upfitters

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Quebec-headquartered Lion Electric is building on its Lion6 electric truck lineup, establishing partnerships with no fewer than four businesses.

An electric refrigerated concept vehicle with a 24-foot body has been developed with Morgan Truck Body and Thermo King, while an 18-foot aluminum platform body with an integrated storage pack has been unveiled by Knapheide. A Lion6 with a 26-foot aluminum platform body came from CM Truck Beds.

Each model was on display at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

Lion Electric trucks
Brian Piern, chief commercial officer at Lion Electric, looks on as a drumline announces the company’s arrival at the Work Truck Show. (Photo: John G. Smith)

“We’re willing to work with any upfitter to take the Lion6 platforms and future platforms and fill them with vocational upfits so we can sell to the masses and help them convert to electrification,” said Brian Piern, chief commercial officer at Lion Electric.

“Electrification is here. It’s real. And we are delivering these trucks right now in North America.”

The refrigerated concept vehicle will generate temperature controls using Thermo King’s recently unveiled e1000 unit, while the truck itself includes an aluminum-extruded subframe and composite panels to reduce weight. Aerodynamics are also enhanced using cab-mounted fairings, side skirts, wheel covers, and vortex generators.

electric refrigerated concept Lion6
The concept vehicle developed with Morgan and Thermo King features an electric reefer and aerodynamic enhancements. (Photo: Lion Electric)

“They were able to cut 2,000 lb. out of that vehicle, increasing payload. A typical challenge, you add batteries, you reduce payload. You need more range? You typically have less payload. So Morgan’s attacking that head on,” Piern said.

Other energy savings are delivered using a high-speed side curtain door to help maintain constant temperatures. The interior walls are insulated with three inches of polyurethane foam, too.

“Thermo King is committed to delivering our customers a fully electrified portfolio of transportation solutions for every segment of the cold chain by 2025,” added Chris Tanaka, vice-president – product management at Thermo King Americas, in a press release.

Knapheide Lion6
Knapheide also introduced storage space behind the Lion6 cab in its upfit. (Photo: Lion Electric)

Meanwhile, the Knapheide unit also offers an enclosed storage space behind the truck cab to secure work equipment.

Mandar Dighe, Knapheide’s vice-president – sales and marketing, described the aluminum platform on the Lion6 as a “perfect upfit”.

There are now more than 550 Lion trucks on the road, and Lion Electric says they’ve collectively covered more than 14 million km.

It all comes as Lion Electric prepares to open a new 900,000-sq.ft. production facility in Joliet, Ill., capable of producing 20,000 vehicles a year.

“It’s the largest dedicated medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle production facility in North America,” Piern said, noting it also represents 1,400 new jobs over the next four years.

“We expect to begin production on limited models in that facility in the second half of this year.”

A battery plant being established in Quebec, meanwhile, will be able to produce five gigawatt hours per year – enough batteries to support 14,000 Lion Electric vehicles.

That facility will offer more control over form factor optimization and battery systems, he added.

It’s scheduled to come online by the end of this year.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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