Van Hool opens new bus plant in Skopje, Macedonia

  • Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski cuts the ribbon.
  • Investment of 25 million € offers Van Hool new opportunities at home and abroad.
  • More than 125 vehicles have already been produced by 430 employees in Macedonia.

Skopje, Macedonia, 14-5-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — Mr Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of Macedonia, and numerous other members of the Macedonian government were present at the official inauguration of Van Hool´s new bus plant in Skopje, Macedonia. With this investment of 25 million €, the Koningshooikt-based company wishes to reaffirm and strengthen its position on the international coach and bus market in the coming years. Filip Van Hool, CEO of Van Hool NV, declared during the official inauguration that starting in 2015, a new type of coach – the “EX (pronounced : e-iks) – will be built in Macedonia for the European and other new markets.

At the beginning of 2012, Van Hool announced that it had received a large order for 500 coaches for the North-American market. This order in fact consisted of 2 orders: a first one for 300 standard coaches, and a second one for 200 coaches with high added value. In order to secure the first order, the company from Koningshooikt was obliged to make an investment of 25 million € in a new factory in Macedonia. CEO Filip Van Hool explains this decision: “Van Hool wants to continue playing a significant role on the American market. From the start it was clear that we couldn’t build these 300 standard coaches in Belgium : the cost price, above all because of the high wage costs for building a series of standard coaches was too high. After a detailed analysis of several possibilities, we decided to build a new plant in Macedonia. The country, although not a member of the EU, is nevertheless very European oriented. The favourable investment climate, together with the working conditions and the skills of the highly-motivated workforce, prompted us to make an investment of 25 million € in Macedonia. Moreover, if we hadn´t made this investment for that first order, we wouldn´t have received the second order for high added value coaches that are being currently built in Koningshooikt.”

Production in the new Van Hool plant began in July 2013. Just one year ago, the same Prime Minister of Macedonia dug the first shovelful of dirt at the ground breaking ceremony that marked the start of the plant´s construction. The first completed coach left the plant on 15 October 2013. In the meantime, 431 Macedonian employees (410 men and 21 women) are working in the brand-new plant and more than 125 coaches have already been built for the American market. This year, around 300 vehicles are being built in Macedonia for the North-American market.

During the official opening, CEO Filip Van Hool also said : “This site offers even more prospects in the short term. We are following the evolution of the bus and coach market closely, and we are convinced that for a certain type of coach, also a standard-type coach, there still remain many opportunities in Europe and other regions. For this reason, as from the fourth quarter of this year, we will be building in Skopje a vehicle that has been given the model name “EX” (pronounced: e-iks). Research, development and sale of the vehicle all take place in Koningshooikt, Belgium. We plan to present the vehicle, to the international public for the first time, at the IAA international trade fair in Hannover, Germany (25/9/2014 – 2/10/2014).

Van Hool is a Belgian independent manufacturer of buses, touring coaches and industrial vehicles. The company, founded in 1947, is established in Koningshooikt. The vast majority of the production is intended for Europe and America. Van Hool has over 4,000 employees worldwide, the largest share of whom work in the production sites in Koningshooikt and Bree (Belgium) and in Skopje (Macedonia).

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Editors, for more information you can contact:

Dirk Snauwaert, Public Relations Manager at Van Hool,
Bernard Van Hoolstraat 58, 2500 Lier (Koningshooikt).
Tel.: +32 (0)3 420 22 12; Mobile: +32 (0)499 555 032;
e-mail: dirk.snauwaert@vanhool.be. Website: www.vanhool.be

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