CN inks an MOU with The Lion Electric Co. to acquire 50 zero-emission trucks

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor · August 31, 2020

Montreal-based Class I railroad carrier said today that it has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Lion Group, a Quebec-based zero-emissions vehicle manufacturer.

Under the terms of the MOU, CN said it will acquire 50 zero-emission trucks, which will be allocated for its intermodal truck fleet and used in the company’s intermodal terminals in urban areas, with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

The impetus for this MOU goes back to April 2019, when CN rolled out a pilot program focused on testing the usage of custom-built electric trucks engineered by The Lion Electric Co.

CN officials said that these zero-emission trucks will be utilized for various intermodal-related purposes, including urban delivery, container shuttle service, and port operations. What’s more, they added that these Lion-manufactured trucks do not produce any noise pollution and also will remove 100 tons of GHG emissions off the road on an annual basis.

Marc Bédard, President and Founder of The Lion Electric Co., said in a statement that this announcement represents the largest order ever for his company, as well as a sign of confidence, noting that it speaks to the need for the “electrification of heavy transportation” and also an invaluable addition to CN’s operations.

And Jean-Jacques Ruest, President and Chief Executive Officer, CN, noted in the same statement that this agreement helps to support innovation in Quebec.

“This agreement is also part of our commitment to encourage economic recovery and reduce the carbon footprint of the global supply chain,” said Ruest. “The regulatory regime put in place by the federal government ensures an environment conducive to such investments.”

A noted intermodal expert, Larry Gross, president of Gross Transportation Consulting, told LM intermodal drayage is the perfect real-world application for electric trucks.

“Shorter range and no scales so if you’re a few pounds overweight, no worries,” he said. “Plus you only need one charging station at home base and lots of hours to charge.”

And another expert, Tony Hatch, principal of New York-based ABH Consulting, observed that this MOUS serves as a sign that a lot of the emerging EV (electric vehicle)/AV (autonomous vehicle) technology that is seen as purely a threat to railraods and intermodal can, in fact, be harnessed to help make the railroad and intermodal supply chain more efficient.

August 31, 2020