VDL opens new electric bus factory for Citea series

VDL Bus & Coach has officially opened its new production facility for electric buses in Roeselare, Belgium. VDL will produce the latest generation of its Citea electric city bus in series there.

Image: VDL

According to the company, the 77,000-square-metre plant has already been “in operation for some time,” but does not say exactly how long. VDL also states that the plant can produce around 800 buses per year.

When the plant was announced in 2020, it was still said that the facility would open in 2021. However, there were delays due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the foundation stone was laid on 8 February 2022. According to the press release, the building reflects VDL Groep’s sustainability and innovation philosophy,” from the design of the building and the heating and cooling concept to the solar panels integrated into the design and the green roof.

With an annual production capacity of 800 vehicles, the new plant in Roeselare alone could meet the current demand for the new Citea series. Nevertheless, VDL’s electric city buses will continue to be assembled at the Valkenswaard site. “This maximises the use of available production capacity. It also increases flexibility,” the company says.

On the other hand, the opening of this electric bus plant in the Belgian region of Flanders will impact another production site – that of Van Hool. The Belgian manufacturer declared bankruptcy at the beginning of this week. Trustees have now accepted the takeover bid from VDL and the German trailer specialist Schmitz Cargobull – the latter is interested in Van Hool’s trailer division. As VDL now has two plants to manufacture electric city buses, it had little interest in Van Hool’s electric bus business (with production in Macedonia). However, VDL is interested in Van Hool’s luxury coaches. Even though VDL Groep states that it “is a staunch advocate of retaining employment, knowledge and skills within its own region,” many jobs at Van Hool will likely be cut. That the latter’s insolvency coincided with the opening of the new electric bus plant was just bad luck.

The Dutch company also emphasises that it consciously decided to build its buses in Europe. “We have a reliable network of production facilities, close to customers, with our own skilled workers who have been loyal to us for years, and with sustainable production methods,” says Rolf-Jan Zweep, CEO of VDL Bus & Coach. “Our employees are highly qualified and use state-of-the-art technology to produce the electric buses of today and of the future.”



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