Maceconia plant ‘necessary’ for Van Hool’s low-cost USA

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Van Hool’s ‘low-cost’ facility required to srengthen its North American market

USA Further to last week’s announcement from Van Hool, disclosing it had begun construction of a new bus and coach production plant in Macedonia, the company has outlined its intentions.

Van Hool NV has won two orders from ABC, its American distributor, for the production and delivery of a total of 510 vehicles. Specifically, the two orders are for 300 ‘low-cost’ vehicles and 210 coaches. To manufacture these 300 ‘low-cost’ vehicles over a period of three years the company approved significant investment in the new project involving the establishment of a foreign manufacturing plant. As a result, Van Hool has also won a second American order, this time for the manufacture of 210 coaches at its Koningshooikt plant in Belgium.

Van Hool said in order to retain and expand its current important position within the American market, it was necessary, at the request of ABC (in which Van Hool has a 35% participating interest), to also be present in the growing ‘low-cost’ vehicle segment which has been sparked by increasingly successful local production from Mexico and imports from China, among others. Van Hool admits manufacture of this type of product in Belgium is impossible due to much higher labour costs.

The negotiations with ABC which led to Van Hool successfully obtaining the second important order for 210 Belgian-built coaches required the investment in a new plant as a low cost production centre. Without it Van Hool would never have won this order.

Filip Van Hool, Van Hool’s Executive Director, said: “Thanks to the efforts of our experienced and flexible employees and the fact we custom-build vehicles to suit our customers’ needs, we have acquired a unique position on the world market. Our products are recognised as being highly innovative. We sell vehicles which have more to offer than others and, as a result, are very labourintensive. In America the ‘low-cost’ vehicle segment is growing very quickly. Our very healthy ambition is to play a significant role in this and thus retain and even expand our position on the global American market. Without this important foreign investment Van Hool’s position on the American market was under threat.”