Bus manufacturer VDL opens new factory in West Flanders

Amid the chaos surrounding the bankruptcy of bus maker Van Hool, competitor and possible acquirer VDL is opening a new factory for electric buses in Roeselare, West Flanders. Its construction was already announced in 2018 but work did not start until 2022. Production is expected to be at full speed by the end of 2025. 

For a few months, the Dutch company has been making buses in its revamped factory in Roeselare. The official opening ceremony took place on Wednesday and was attended by Flemish minister-president JanJambon and Mobility minister Lydia Peeters. Factory director Alain Doucet remarked that the old factory halls were stuck in the 20th century, and that modernisation had been much needed.

The opening of the factory does not indicate that the company is in good shape. The management launched a plea to politicians today, pointing out the challenges facing the bus industry, especially the competition from China.

According to Rolf-Jan Zweep, senior vice president of the group's bus division, the company faces unfair competition. China has an easy sales market in Belgium, while bus makers in Belgium and Europe have difficulty accessing the Chinese market. 

VDL group is, with the German Schmitz-Cargobull, in the running to relaunch Van Hool, the Flemish bus manufacturer that was declared bankrupt on Monday. Other candidates, however, have emerged in recent days. Entrepreneur Guido Dumarey, with an American distributor, came back into the picture with a new plan to acquire Van Hool. On Tuesday, CIM Capital, another investment company, came forward as a possible candidate. ​ 


#FlandersNewsService | Roeselare mayor Kris Declerq, Mobility minister Lydia Peeters, minister president Jan Jambon, VDL Group chief executive officer Willem Van Der Leegte and VDL's Roeselare director Alain Doucet at the official opening of the new production site of VDL in Roeselare, 10 April 2024 © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER

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