MONTREAL – The 3-day Movin’On global summit here was focused on sustainable mobility – and another step in that direction was demonstrated with the unveiling of the Lion M, an all-electric, multi-use midi/mini-sized bus that’s specifically designed for the paratransit market.
The Lion M joins a lineup that already includes a full-size all-electric school bus that can carry up to 72 passengers. Other all-electric commercial vehicles chassis are in the works by the Newtown, Pennsylvania-based company.
The Lion M, expected to go on sale this summer, is powered by a 200-horsepower electric motor fuelled by LG Chem batteries. Depending on the battery choice, its range can vary from 120 to 240 km. A unique feature is an available battery swapping setup where the depleted battery can be pulled out, at an end-of-route terminal, for example, and quickly replaced by a fully charged unit so the bus can continue on its routes.
The Lion M’s monocoque chassis, comprised largely of lightweight materials such as aluminum, is designed to “kneel” 82.55 mm for easier access, and a bi-fold access ramp that extends from the front door ensures ease of loading for wheelchairs and walkers.
A fleet of Lion electric school buses was used as shuttle vehicles between venues here and the experience of riding in one proved to be no different than a conventionally powered model – except it was significantly quieter. With the electric motor delivering 335 hp and 2,200 lb-ft of torque, the output and resulting performance was at least comparable to – and perhaps surpassed – the equivalent gas- or diesel- powered models.
The concept of utilizing all-electric power in such vehicles makes a lot of sense, said a Lion spokesperson. School bus routes are typically within the 90- to 150-km range (depending on the battery choice) of the electric powertrain, so once the driver has completed the morning run, the LG Chem batteries can be recharged at the bus yard in time for the afternoon return run. It takes four to six hours to complete a recharge. After that drive, the batteries can be recharged again overnight. The runs are completed with zero emissions. (A diesel-powered heater is used to keep the interior comfortable during extreme cold conditions.)