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Lion's EV truck announcement met with silence

Illustration of a road with glowing electricity symbols dividing the lanes.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Canadian electric truck startup Lion (NYSE: LEV) last week announced the release of a new truck type, ostensibly focused on last-mile deliveries. The silence was deafening.

Why it matters: The underwhelming response from media outlets reflects the challenges facing EV truck makers generally, and Lion specifically.

What's happening: Last Monday, Lion announced its new heavy-duty truck targeting the last-mile urban delivery market.

  • Lion may be seeking to position itself as a potential alternative to Arrival or BrightDrop, EV startups that have attracted far more coverage for their last-mile delivery vans.

Yes, but: A heavy-duty truck for last-mile urban delivery would seem a contradiction in terms, industry experts tell Axios.

  • Last-mile delivery vans — think UPS or FedEx, or the Arrival and BrightDrop vehicles — are more often described as light-duty, or at least not "heavy-duty" trucks.
  • Lion's last-mile-delivery offering will be built on the company's Lion6 platform — a heavier "Class 6" chassis that's closer to a beverage truck or school bus than a delivery van.
  • Traditional delivery trucks, by contrast, tend to be anywhere from Class 2 to Class 5.

What they're saying: "Those are two different segments — two different types of vehicles," Michael Bakunin, a managing director in FTI Consulting’s power, renewables & utilities practice, tells Axios.

Between the lines: Lion has about 20 of its trucks on the road, a company spokesperson tells Axios. That's more than other EV truck-makers can claim.

  • Tesla has repeatedly delayed delivery of its Semi, and Nikola became mired in a federal fraud investigation. But Nikola delivered two prototype trucks in December (just as it also announced a nine-figure settlement in the the fraud investigation).
  • Lion notched a major win last year in announcing an order of 2,500 trucks from Amazon.
  • Yet the company's stock price has been on a steady decline since January 2021, when Lion announced the Amazon order. Shares were down 2% at $7.02 in early trading this morning, down from its January 2021 peak of $33.48.

By the numbers: Arrival and BrightDrop have been cagey about their vehicles' expected prices. However, Ford's E-Transit delivery van starts at $43,225.

  • By contrast, the Lion6 last-mile-delivery model has a sticker price between $250,000 and 300,000, a company spokesperson says.
  • That's much closer to the anticipated prices of the Tesla Semi and Nikola truck.

What we're watching: Whether and how Lion's deliveries of its trucks to customers accelerates. Ram Chandrasekaran, head of road transport at Wood Mackenzie, tells Axios, "Interest from the media is not proportional to the meaningfulness of the product."

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