Lion Electric undergoes monumental U.S. expansion following strategic support from Colliers
Eyeing the growth potential
The Lion Electric Co., a leading manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles, started out in a 28,000 square foot facility in Quebec. With strategic advisory support from Colliers, the company is now set to build the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the United States – a 900,000 square foot facility outside Chicago, Illinois.
Lion Electric was pursuing an aggressive corporate expansion. The challenge for their team was finding a site they felt confident could accommodate this growth…and quickly. Luc Sicotte, Senior Vice President, Real Estate Management Services (REMS), spotted an opportunity. He had cultivated a relationship with Lion Electric from their early days in St. Jerome where REMS was managing the site of their headquarters. Luc advised that they connect with Colliers Strategy & Consulting Group. Together, they set the mandate and priorities for expansion and with it, Lion Electric’s ambitions started to become reality.
Finding the optimal solution
In an accelerated three-month timeline at the start of February 2021, a team from our Colliers Strategy & Consulting, led by Jason Rutland, Senior Vice President, Strategic Advisory, orchestrated the site selection, financial modelling, transaction planning, and transaction execution process for Lion Electric leveraging multiple expertise and capabilities within the Colliers network, while helping to balance the operational and real estate considerations with their broader corporate strategy.
A number of critical factors – everything from the availability of labour, reliable supply network, access to reasonable utility costs – would affect the long-term success of the expansion, and Colliers helped integrate a large dataset of both qualitative and quantitative factors to accelerate decision making. By bringing together a team of experts in both Canada and the United States – those in financial modeling, network, labour, and supply chain analytics, along with those with a strong foothold in the automotive, construction, contracting, property management, and government relations sectors – Colliers was able to address the diverse challenges encountered by Lion Electric.
The strategy maintained a competitive bid process and utilized market leverage to negotiate favourable lease terms in a rapidly rising market. By facilitating credible C-suite level conversations with key internal and external stakeholders, Colliers ensured that Lion Electric was presented with the most viable and promising short-list of properties to consider.
Seeing things through
Lion Electric’s new flagship facility, located in Joliet, Illinois, will have an annual production capacity of 20,000 all-electric buses and trucks, with the first vehicles rolling off the production line in late 2022. A combined Colliers team with continued executive leadership from Luc Sicotte and Jason Rutland are supporting the final development of the site in coordination with Lion’s engineering and executive teams, the developer, building architect, and a number of other professionals to bring the facility online in late 2022.
What the future holds
The Colliers team looks forward to seeing how this expansion drives further growth for Lion Electric and their commitment to the green economy. More broadly, we look forward to continuing to proactively identify where we can add value, match unique challenges with unique skillsets, and pave the way for new opportunities for our clients.