MONTREAL, Que. — In September, The Lion Electric Co. reached an agreement for the delivery of 10 fully-electric Lion6 trucks to the American online retail giant Amazon. Marc Bédard, CEO of Lion, answers Transport Routier editor Steve Bouchard’s questions on the realization of this agreement and the impact it will have on the future of the Quebec manufacturer of electric trucks.
Bouchard: How did the discussions with Amazon start?
Bédard: It all started in the spring of 2019 in Atlanta. I had been invited by the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations to give the keynote speech at their annual meeting. There were people from Amazon in the room and that’s where it all started. We had a prototype vehicle on site. Afterwards, the folks at Amazon gave the vehicle a try and found it to meet their needs.
Bouchard: What did Amazon find interesting about your vehicle?
Bédard: I think one of the things they found interesting is that the vehicle is available now. A lot of people talk about electric trucks, but there aren’t that many companies that offer them. Our vehicles are made to be electric, it is not a truck that has been retrofitted to run electric. For the majority of operators, this is extremely attractive because they see that all technological development has been done very seriously.
Bouchard: What does it mean, in terms of visibility, that your name is associated with Amazon’s?
Bédard: Amazon made very few announcements [related to electric vehicles], they only made a few agreements. We are truly blessed to be a part of it. We have the chance to deliver vehicles to them and we are going to wish that they like them very much.
Bouchard: It puts the spotlight on you. Do you feel that this is putting pressure on you?
Bédard: It’s true. But we have always operated like this, because if we always wanted to do things that are extremely reassuring, we would not be in this field, because we have to put new technologies in place with a certain speed. Sure, the spotlight is on us but, if you remember four years ago when we introduced our first 100% electric school buses, the spotlight was on us. Now they are less, because we have become the leader of the electric school bus in North America. Everyone will be watching what will happen over the next few months as we make more announcements.
Bouchard: Amazon ordered Lion6s, which you say are designed for the “middle mile.” What is it exactly? What range are we talking about exactly?
Bédard: We’re talking about 300 kilometers. The person who delivers your order to your house takes care of the last mile, the Lion6 is not made for that. It will be used for transportation between distribution centers in the Amazon network. It allows larger items to be transported.
Bouchard: When will the 10 trucks be delivered to Amazon?
Bédard: Two trucks will be delivered this year in California. Then, eight will be delivered to the U.S. at locations to be determined over the next few months.
Bouchard: What kinds of interactions will you have with Amazon during the delivery of the trucks and in the months after?
Bédard: Lion also takes care of vehicle maintenance, including telematics. Preventive maintenance will be done, as we do for all our vehicles elsewhere. We will also be providing training. We have a team, the Bright Squad, that follow the truck for the first few weeks and makes sure that the driver’s questions are answered.
Bouchard: What is your backlog for the next few months?
Bédard: We have the 50 tractors to deliver to CN, as we announced. We also have a few for delivery to Waste Connections, fully-electric waste collection trucks. Today we are in the neighborhood of 100 firm orders. We have discussions with many prospects in Canada and the U.S. I believe we will have other great announcements in the future, as there are fleets that are watching and wanting to try the vehicle out. Deliveries begin in October and Amazon will have the first Lion in operation.
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