Van Hool is to build a bus manufacturing plant in Tennessee, USA, as it aims to penetrate the public transport market.
The plant will be a copy of that recently opened in Macedonia, which is “operating very satisfactorily” says Van Hool. Its output includes the lower-cost EX model for the UK.
The new plant will start production in 18 months and is designed to cement Van Hool’s position in the US market, where it says it has been the market leader for coaches since 2015, with a 35% share.
Currently, coaches for the USA are built in Van Hool’s Belgian and Macedonian plants.
However, the Buy American Act, which says that manufacturers should be using American components for 70% percent of the vehicle’s value, means buses cannot be imported if they are publicly funded, as all USA bus networks are.
The USA bus market, of 7,000 vehicles a year, compared with 1,500-2,000 coaches, is seen as an important market by Van Hool.