Canada: First Student is ordering 260 all-electric LionC school buses. The announcement has been jointly made public by First Student, which is the largest student transportation provider in North America, and the Canadian manufacturer of electric commercial vehicles.

First Student, as its sister company First Transit, both belonging to FirstGroup, is set to be taken over by EQT Infrastructure for USD 4.6 billion.

This is the largest order of school buses by a single customer in Lion’s history, as it follows a previous order for 60 units, also in Quebec. The order will make First Student the largest operator of zero-emission school buses in North America, the partners say. Deliveries will take place beginning in the second half of 2021 through the first half of 2023. The buses will be used by Transco, First Student’s subsidiary that operates in Quebec.

First Student embraces the importance that electrification and zero-emission technologies will play in the future of student transportation. The electrification of school buses has already started and is poised to accelerate rapidly

First Student President Paul Osland

First Student electric school buses: a major contract

In early 2019, Keolis Canada ordered 12 electric school buses Type C from Lion Electric. It was released that, according to a survey, 92% of Quebeckers want school boards and schools to increase their use of electric buses. A few weeks before that, New York State had launched an electric school bus test fleet thanks to five LionC units.

As part of this latest purchase, the LionEnergy team will strategically work with First Student for the selection and installation of necessary infrastructure so that the operator can adequately scale its zero-emission operations.

Lion Electric has also recently announced that it has selected Joliet, in Illinois, for the construction of its U.S. manufacturing facility. The Canadian company is also building a battery plant in its home country.

“Today marks a new step in the adoption of zero-emission school buses,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion. “First Student’s leadership demonstrates that zero-emission technology is here to meet the needs of the market at scale, as is our production capacity – we are not talking about pilot programs, but rather entire bus fleets going electric, with vehicles that meet the daily requirements of the industry’s largest operators.”

Lion Electric is featured in the newly released issue of Sustainable Bus magazine, with a dedicated report on the electric bus market in the USA.

“We are proud to take this significant step to improve the environmental health of our student passengers and the communities we serve,” said First Student President Paul Osland. “First Student embraces the importance that electrification and zero-emission technologies will play in the future of student transportation. The electrification of school buses has already started and is poised to accelerate rapidly. This work with Lion Electric is an important step to position First Student as North America’s leading owner and operator of electric school buses.”

On average 480,000 yellow buses carry upwards of 25 million children to school on a daily basis in the US. With only 1% of these buses currently running on electrified powertrains, that means a lot of gas-guzzling diesel engines polluting the air. President Elect Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan for creating a more resilient, sustainable economy proposes making all American-made buses zero-emission by 2030, starting with the school bus fleet, which would convert within 5 years

INTERACT ANALYSIS

Lion electric school buses in operation in Quebec

“At First Student, we long have been at the forefront of developing and implementing innovations in transportation,” said First Student’s Senior Vice President of Strategy, Business Development, Marketing and Communications, Claire Miller. “Now, as the largest operator of zero-emission school buses in North America, we will play a critical role in helping communities improve air quality and environmental health for passengers and the community. With the purchase of 260 buses, everyone wins. We cannot wait to start bringing them online soon.”

“We are very excited to be putting the buses into operation in our own backyard here in Quebec, where soon an electric school bus will be a common sight,” said Benoit Morin, Vice President of Sales, Canada, at Lion. “Getting children excited about zero-emission technologies today sets them up for a lifetime of climate advocacy, to the benefit of their communities and the planet.”

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