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Some interesting news. Looks like they will be selling transit buses in the US again.

Van Hool builds bus factory in Morristown, Tennessee, US

  • Van Hool invests more than $47 million dollars in a second foreign production site after Skopje, Macedonia.
  • The "Buy America Act" obliges Van Hool to build a factory in America for the local bus market with growth potential.
  • The factory in Morristown will be operational during the first quarter of 2020 with 600 employees.

Koningshooikt (Belgium) / Morristown (U.S.) - Van Hool NV, an independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, will build a bus factory in Morristown, Tennessee, U.S. Once the facility is operational in the first quarter of 2020, Van Hool will employ 600 and manufacture around 400 buses and commuter coaches annually for the North American public transport market. The ground breaking ceremony for the new site will take place at the end of this summer.

The announcement was made in Morristown, Tennessee, in the presence of Bill Haslam, the Governor of Tennessee, and Bob Rolfe, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

Filip Van Hool, CEO at Van Hool, said of the decision: "We have over 30 years of experience in the North American market where we have been successful with buses and coaches for private companies. We’ve delivered over 11,000 vehicles in North America since 1987. Based on this experience and through market research, we have learned that the public transportation market, with a total annual potential of 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles, offers opportunities for Van Hool. Because of the "Buy America Act,” our family business decided to explore a new manufacturing facility in the U.S.”

The 1982 “Buy America Act” requires vehicles supplied to public authorities to be assembled in the U.S., contain 70 percent of their parts from American suppliers and 100 percent American steel.

Filip Van Hool explained the choice for Morristown, Tennessee: "We are excited to announce the next step of the Van Hool group's global growth plans here in Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee. The investment of more than $47 million confirms the more than 30-year presence of Van Hool on the American market. Today we are looking forward to building a state-of-the-art bus factory in Morristown to provide the entire North American market with high-quality buses and commuter coaches for transportation agencies from 2020 onwards. The presence of highly-respected technical schools and well-trained employees, together with the support and cooperation of all the local stakeholders in Morristown, Hamblen County and Tennessee, convinced Van Hool's Executive Board to make the largest investment outside of Belgium in Van Hool’s 71-year history."

Regarding the significance of this investment for Van Hool in Koningshooikt, where the head office of the group is located, Filip Van Hool was clear: "This significant investment in a new market for Van Hool offers opportunities for employees in Koningshooikt. We really want to offer a particularly competitive product on the public bus transportation market in America. This new type of bus will be fully designed and developed by the engineers at the design office in Koningshooikt. Moreover, in the run-up to starting production in Morristown, in the first quarter of 2020, a comprehensive training program is being developed for the new American employees who will come to Europe over the course of 2019. Our experienced employees will familiarize their new American colleagues with the high-quality norms and standards of Van Hool vehicles."

“Van Hool’s decision to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Morristown and create more than 600 jobs underscores the robust pro-growth environment of job creation we’ve fostered in Tennessee,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “Tennessee is a leading destination for foreign direct investment and because of globally renowned businesses like Van Hool, Tennessee will lead the nation in high quality jobs opportunities.”

“Van Hool is an exceptional company and I’m pleased this third-generation, family-owned business has decided to bring 600 well-paying, family-wage jobs to East Tennessee,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “Tennessee’s skilled workforce, central location and higher education programs such as the Tennessee Promise continue to attract world-class international companies like Van Hool to our state.”

Van Hool is an independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer. The company, which was founded in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt, Belgium. The majority of its production is destined for Europe and America. Van Hool has around 4,450 staff worldwide, the majority of whom of course work in the production facilities in Koningshooikt  (Belgium) and in Skopje (Macedonia).

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Wow, good find. Hard to tell from the article if their focus will be on intercity coaches or transit buses.

Fair enough, the few Van Hools in North American transit fleets have been problematic. But, it seems that with a few adjustments, Van Hool could have a viable product for the US/Canada market.

Hmm... AC Transit and DC Circulator haven't had a great experience with their Van Hool fleets. I don't know of any others in the US. What is the conclusion on Van Hools in York Region? Or does the newer fleet of Nova artics answer that question? :huh:

 

 

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12 hours ago, Border City Transit said:

Hmm... AC Transit and DC Circulator haven't had a great experience with their Van Hool fleets. I don't know of any others in the US. What is the conclusion on Van Hools in York Region? Or does the newer fleet of Nova artics answer that question?

Don't forget that Quebec City is getting a bunch of 30 foot Van Hool hybrids.

As far as DC Circulator goes, I really can't place the blame for their Van Hool issues on the buses themselves. The system's private maintenance contractor cut a lot of corners, and even some of the recent New Flyers have problems as well.  

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6 hours ago, WMATAC40LF said:

As far as DC Circulator goes, I really can't place the blame for their Van Hool issues on the buses themselves. The system's private maintenance contractor cut a lot of corners, and even some of the recent New Flyers have problems as well.  

Truth.

There's signs of cut corners everywhere at Circulator. Now that it's a "mature" system, I can't understand why it still gets 1,000x more love than Metrobus... when, in 95 percent of cases, WMATA delivers a superior experience: cleaner buses in -much- better condition... and the reliability of service isn't any better or worse than Circ. And if it ever is "worse", it's because Metrobus routes are much longer and serve far more varied environments, while Circulator routes are pretty boutique-y.

Oh... and now WMATA is contracting out Operations & Maintenance at Cinder Bed Division? Eek. Seems like all the big private operators have pretty bad rap sheets in the DMV. I'll give First Transit a "pass" in Alexandria... and that's about it. Good luck.

I'm sorry... we were talking about Van Hool? B)

 

 

 

 

 

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On 4/29/2018 at 10:19 AM, Border City Transit said:

Wow, good find. Hard to tell from the article if their focus will be on intercity coaches or transit buses.

Fair enough, the few Van Hools in North American transit fleets have been problematic. But, it seems that with a few adjustments, Van Hool could have a viable product for the US/Canada market.

Hmm... AC Transit and DC Circulator haven't had a great experience with their Van Hool fleets. I don't know of any others in the US. What is the conclusion on Van Hools in York Region? Or does the newer fleet of Nova artics answer that question? :huh:

 

 

AC transit had more a push to buy local. Reason they have been getting Gilligs for their 40 ft orders

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Maybe Van Hool will make a clean sheet design for the US or even use this plant to build more of their motorcoaches (a product they seem to do the best). I could see a version of the A360 working ok in the US as LE buses seemed to be the preferred design. A trolley bus could be used on routes with dedicated ROW's like LA Orange line for example.

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On 4/29/2018 at 10:19 AM, Border City Transit said:

I don't know of any others in the US.

Utah Transit Authority, Baltimore's Charm City Circulator, and Krapf's are other agencies using VHs in transit service.

Stanford and some university in minnesota use VHs on their shuttles..

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On ‎7‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 2:52 AM, XN40 said:

Maybe Van Hool will make a clean sheet design for the US or even use this plant to build more of their motorcoaches (a product they seem to do the best). I could see a version of the A360 working ok in the US as LE buses seemed to be the preferred design. A trolley bus could be used on routes with dedicated ROW's like LA Orange line for example.

Not to consider necessary infrastructure costs. Installing trolleybus wires would only be feasible if there are short-term plans to convert the entire corridor to conventional LRT. For the long-term, as is suggested here, battery electric technology might be best, perhaps with fast charging at station stops.

Remember their JV with Proterra last year? https://www.trucks.com/2017/10/09/proterra-van-hool-electric-motor-coaches/

Proterra technology in Van Hool transit buses would look plain awesome to me!

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On ‎7‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 3:31 PM, Transit geek said:

Not to consider necessary infrastructure costs. Installing trolleybus wires would only be feasible if there are short-term plans to convert the entire corridor to conventional LRT. For the long-term, as is suggested here, battery electric technology might be best, perhaps with fast charging at station stops.

Remember their JV with Proterra last year? https://www.trucks.com/2017/10/09/proterra-van-hool-electric-motor-coaches/

Proterra technology in Van Hool transit buses would look plain awesome to me!

Why must it be confined to a precursor to LRT? There could be some examples where BRT with trolleybus operation would be ideal. Obviously the essential electrical infrastructure could be used to upgrade to LRT, if and when.

So why would battery electric be better?  A comparison of advantages between battery electric and mains electric does not all point one way. This isn't necessarily getting through to the general public yet but eventually it should. In any event most trolleybuses being produced e.g. the XT40 and XT60 for SF Muni or these Van Hools for Linz Austria have varying amounts of battery range (5km/10km/20km) and In Motion Charging. 

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