Heavy-duty trucks don’t often grab headlines on Auto123.com. But the unveiling of such a vehicle in an all-electric configuration, made by a Canadian company, far ahead of the schedule being plotted by any other big truck manufacturer, is worth noting and then some.
Meet the Lion8
Indeed, other than Chinese BYD (Build Your Dreams) that produces some all-electric heavy vehicles for North America, no one else has announced the start of production of such a truck.
Just as exciting is the fact that the Lion8 was conceived and will be built by a Quebec-based manufacturer north of Montreal, The Lion Electric Co. The firm already builds several different electric Type C school buses and is about to bring to market an all-electric minibus, the LionM.
The new Lion8 heavy-duty truck was introduced to the media and the transport industry this week at a special unveiling in Mirabel, Quebec, hosted by football star and Lion brand ambassador Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
The Quebec provincial government is providing support to the company in its research and development of electric vehicles as part of its long-term strategy to improve air quality.
The Lion8 unveiled at a heavy-duty truck driving school in St-Jérôme is the very first one of its generation, identified as a Class 8 truck. It’s a straight-body vehicle with a cab-over design (often called a “flat nose” truck).
There is absolutely no mechanical involvement in the propulsion of the truck. In other words, this truck is totally clean or “green”, producing no emissions. According to Lion Electric Co. president Marc Bedard, a truck of this kind should save owners and businesses around 80% of the costs usually incurred by a diesel-powered truck.
What’s more, with an electric truck, 60% of the maintenance cost is eliminated thanks to the simplicity of its components. In addition, brake maintenance expenses are reduced as well thanks to the regenerating system included with an electric vehicle.
The Lion8 introduced in Mirabel is, for the time being, the only one of its kind in existence – and it is fully functional, virtually production-ready. In fact the truck, presented at the launch with a long-box body, already has a buyer. Quebec’s liquor board the SAQ (Société des Alccols du Québec) should take delivery of its order of Lion8 trucks in the fall of 2019. The truck maker hopes other government agencies in Quebec and other Canadian provinces will choose the Lion8 for their fleet.
The entirety of the Lion8 was designed and is being built in Quebec, including the composite-material cab designed by Montreal’s Paul Deutschman (official designer of the Callaway Corvettes).
The truck sits on its own bespoke heavy-duty chassis with a 5,588 mm (220 in) wheelbase. Weighing some 11,158 kg (24,600 lb), it has a GVWR of 24 766 kg (54,600 lb). The cab is 1,530 mm (60.25 in) long, 2,578 mm (101.5 in) large and 2,717.8 mm (107 in) high.
The powertrain of the truck is found underneath the body; it consists of a SUMO HD HV3500-9 P electric motor by TM4 developing some 350 kWh (470 hp) and 3,400 Nm (2,507 ft-lb) of torque that will enable the truck to reach speeds up to 105 km/h (65 mph).
The Lion8 is equipped with batteries that generate up to 480kWh of power and have a maximum range of 400 km (250 miles). Depending on the type of charging station used (Type II or III), it can take from 2.5 to 16 hours to recharge. By the way, if you’re wondering about the transmission, well there simply isn’t one!
The truck rides on Hendrickson air suspension system found all around. The Hendrickson front axle has a capacity of 6,622 kg (14,600 lb) while, at the rear, the Dana tandem differential axle has a capacity of 9,027 kg (40,000 lb). Finally, air braking is handled all around by a Bendix system using disks.
The cost of the Lion8 is estimated at between $300,000 to $400,000, which is close to double the price of a similar diesel-powered truck. There’s no question that’s steep, but the folks at Lion Electric Co. estimate that the price difference will be paid for in about three to four years; since a truck of this type is used for 12 years on average, that leaves a lot of potential for long-term savings on fuel and maintenance. The other advantages pitches by the makers of the Lion8 include the much quieter powertrain and the ease of making deliveries in urban environments.
Lion Electric Co. estimates that its production line should be up and running by late-summer; the company’s Saint-Jerome plant is currently in the process of being enlarged. When at full capacity, the firm should be able to produce more than 1,000 trucks a year if not more, according to company president Bédard.
And the story doesn’t end there. Marc Bédard has already invited participants at this first unveiling of a Lion all-electric heavy-duty truck to return for a similar event, when The Lion Electric Co. will be pulling the covers off its first all-electric…highway tractor!