Roeselare and Valkenswaard: ready for production of the new generation of VDL Citeas
The signals are green. In a while, the new generation of Citeas will be produced at a CO2-neutral factory in Roeselare, Belgium. The decision is final: the new building is on the way and construction will start this autumn. "We have great confidence in the future development of the market for electric buses," says CEO Henk Coppens of VDL Bus & Coach.
Electric buses will also be produced at VDL Bus Valkenswaard. In the course of 2022, the Heerenveen branch will be converted into an assembly plant that will make assembly modules under the planned cooperation with the construction company Van Wijnen. As a result, VDL in Heerenveen will eventually stop making buses.
"Even before the coronavirus crisis, we had started working on reorganising the bus division to create the necessary flexibility and strengthen our activities," says Coppens. "The previously initiated plan to grow towards multi-product factories and increase the production portfolio will be continued unabated. In the Netherlands, some tenders have been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, but in other countries the contracts continue to be awarded. The replacement of diesel buses with electric ones is an important issue throughout Europe because of the climate ambitions of both governments and cities. Sustainable mobility is the future, a commitment to which VDL is happy to adhere."
Henk Coppens stresses that VDL continues to make a strategic choice to build buses in Western Europe. "Close to our customers, CO2-neutral and through sustainable production methods that preserve jobs. In this way, we offer sustainable mobility solutions and, in the field of public transport, we are the European leader: one in five electric buses are made by VDL.”
VDL Bus Roeselare
In the autumn of 2019, VDL Bus & Coach announced that it would build a new factory in Roeselare. The production process is designed to build electrically powered buses in the most efficient way possible. This will be done taking an energy-neutral approach using 'green' technology. Partly due to uncertainties caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, the plan was temporarily put on hold.
Peter Wouters, director of the Roeselare plant, says that preparations have continued behind the scenes over recent months. "The architectural firm has finalised the design and the environmental permit has been applied for. We aim to start construction this autumn. The intention is to move from the current location to the new one by the end of next year. In the meantime, the ambition has remained unchanged: the new factory will, alongside Valkenswaard, be our centre for e-mobility, which will enable us to respond even better to the needs and demands of the European market."
VDL Bus Valkenswaard
In addition to coaches, VDL Bus & Coach in Valkenswaard will also produce electric buses. A dedicated production line has been set up for this purpose. According to Coppens, "We have invested a lot in adjusting and improving the process recently, for example by having employees from Heerenveen, Roeselare and Valkenswaard exchange knowledge and experience in the field of building public transport buses. The Valkenswaard plant is now equipped to handle both disciplines (coaches and public transport). Our current order book looks promising, so we’re going to distribute the various public transport orders. In Valkenswaard, for example, 102 Citeas Electric will be built for Oslo, the largest public transport order to date. And there will soon also be orders for the new generation of VDL Citeas."
VDL Bus Heerenveen
VDL and construction company Van Wijnen are planning a long-term cooperation. After completing the procedures, the VDL company in Friesland will be transformed into VDL Smart Spaces around the end of this calendar year. The new activity for VDL in Heerenveen offers employment to all employees who will produce modules for the building on an industrial basis. Think of complete bathrooms, toilets and technical rooms. These will be installed on building sites ready for use.
Bus production will be phased out in the first quarter of 2022 and will end on 31 March 2022. Until then, VDL Bus & Coach will continue to build buses in Heerenveen. There will be no reduction in the portfolio; the current LLE and LLE-Electric lines will be continued, ultimately in Valkenswaard. The official collaboration with Van Wijnen will start on 1 January 2022.
VDL Bus & Coach bv
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