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Lion Electric Co.’s Roaring Success

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“Some people say Lion is an overnight success, twelve years in the making,” says CEO and founder of Lion Electric Co. Marc Bedard. “We’ve been working under the radar, investing all the money we could into the product – and here we are. Our trucks and buses can be test driven and delivered today, not in four or five years from now.”

Founded in 2008, Lion is an innovator and established industry leader in the zero-emission vehicles space. With seven vehicle models available for purchase today – including all-electric class 6 to class 8 commercial urban trucks, school buses, and minibuses for school, paratransit and mass transit segment – Lion has more than 390 all-electric vehicles on the road today and these were driven over more than 7 million miles. And they’re doing it all in-house; as one of the leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in transportation electrification in North America, Lion designs, builds and assembles many of its vehicles' components, including chassis, battery packs, truck cabins and bus bodies.

“We trace our success to our single-minded focus,” says Bedard. Lion believes that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life. And they’re making it happen by partnering with major corporations including Amazon, CN, BMW and ConEdison. Recently, they delivered their first trucks to Amazon, and announced the largest single order ever in the electric school bus industry in North America (with – First Student, the largest student transportation provider in North America), for 260 buses by H1 2023.

The company has ambitious plans for expansion – and that’s where BMO comes in. In late 2020, BMO Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Lion in connection with its merger with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp., a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) focused on climate solutions infrastructure. It also acted as a PIPE placement agent where it contributed in finding institutional investors, including the BMO Impact Investment Fund, to help fund the growth of the company post-merger.

The US$1.5 billion merger and concurrent equity injection of close to US$500 million will help Lion maintain its leadership in the electric vehicle industry. Their growth strategy includes establishing their U.S. manufacturing capacity, continuing their development of advanced battery systems, and plans to build a highly automated battery system assembly factory.

“This transaction marks an important milestone in Lion’s continued emergence as a market leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of purpose-built, all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles,” says Bedard.

BMO is committed to helping our clients succeed and produce sustainable outcomes at the same time. This deal will help Lion achieve their ambitious goals for growth while driving reductions in GHGs faster and further. And along with Lion’s partnerships with other major companies, it will help expand the reach, popularity and normalization of electric vehicles.

That work fits in well with BMO’s commitment to double the amount of capital we mobilize to companies pursuing sustainable outcomes by 2025 through lending, underwriting and investing activities. Of the total commitment, $150 billion is directed towards companies pursuing sustainable outcomes, and we’ve achieved 71% of this goal by the end of fiscal 2020.

“Lion Electric is committed to a sustainable future, and BMO was proud to act as its trusted financial advisor in this transaction,” says Dan Barclay, CEO and Group Head of BMO Capital Markets. “The company has strengthened its position within the electric vehicle industry, and BMO looks forward to continuing to support the company and drive future success.”

As for Lion, they have big things on the horizon. “We have seven electric vehicle models for sale right now, and we will be launching eight additional models within the next two years,” says Bedard. They’re also ramping up production, building new facilities, doing more R&D and identifying new sales opportunities. Lion is looking ahead to what comes next, and excited for the future.

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