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    21 speakers, totalling 1,455 watts. No doubt about it, the driving performance of the new Porsche Panamera will wow you, but that won’t be the only thing.  The sound system with 21 speakers integrated in the car’s inner lining is nothing short of amazing. And, as Belgians, we can be proud since the Auro-3D audio

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    21 speakers, totalling 1,455 watts. No doubt about it, the driving performance of the new Porsche Panamera will wow you, but that won’t be the only thing.  The sound system with 21 speakers integrated in the car’s inner lining is nothing short of amazing. And, as Belgians, we can be proud since the Auro-3D audio and format were developed in Belgium.

    You won’t find as passionate a manufacturer and sound engineer as Wilfried Van Baelen any time soon. Full of fire and passion, the CEO of Auro Technologies treats your BeAutomotive journalist to “Immersive Sound” (= Sound in 3D). One push of a button and here I am on the Dam in Amsterdam. A few minutes later, I find myself in the countryside listening to the chirping of birds. A donkey brays in the distance. And a tractor passes close to me. Surprisingly lifelike, even though I am visiting the headquarters of the demo studio of Auro Technologies.

    The new path taken by the Mol based company has warranted this interview. Indeed, as a Belgian player, it has succeeded in becoming an attractive option in the Porsche Panamera. From now on, a Porsche buyer will be able to opt for the Belgian Auro-3D sound which is gradually conquering the world. The automotive press is talking about ‘a new driving experience’.

    3D audio is the core of Auro Technologies. How did the company come about?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Auro Technologies was founded in 2010 as a spin-off of Galaxy Studios. With my brother and engineer Guy, we started this one-of-a-kind, interactive studio complex in 1995 at the location of our first recording studio: our father’s large henhouse. 20 years later, we still have the world’s quietest recording studios, thanks to innovative construction methods using cutting-edge insulation and the quietest air-con ever. Each of the 15 rooms is like a separate concrete bunker resting on metal springs isolating from less than 3 Herz, yet visually connected to each other through 11 cm thick glass panels weighing up to more than 1000 kg.. Major artists and producers come here to record and mix. Film post-production for image and sound optimization are also done here.

    For us, this became an ideal testing and research environment for Auro Technologies. My goal was to obtain a much truer sound reproduction like the way we naturally experience sound. We are driven by innovation.

    In Auro Technologies I am the CEO, sound engineer, visionary and creative brain. COO Steven Van Tongelen and CTO Bert Van Daele take care of day-to-day business. The board is composed of our shareholders, including my brother (CFO), our German partner Alfred Schefenacker (Chairman), as well as Barco and our new Chinese partner Beijing Jetsen.”

    Almost everyone in the music and film business knows the Galaxy Studios. But what is it we don’t know about your innovations and technology?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “When I first heard the playback of ‘Sound in 3D’ during my research in 2005, I was in shock. Even though I had spent years specializing in sound and worked with all recording and audio formats, never in my career had I found sound so compelling. It was as though I was very close to the artist, as if I, too, was on the stage or in the middle of the action of a movie or a game.

    At the same time, the new sound gave me a relaxed feeling because the waves would penetrate my brain so naturally, requiring less effort to analyse it.

    People don’t know this sound. Most people think that 5.1 or 7.1 surround delivers a lifelike sound, until they experience our Auro-3D. In one of our demos, you feel like you are actually standing on the Dam in Amsterdam. You are able to tell where the bell ringing is coming from; you feel the tram riding behind you and the people walking past you… In another demo, you experience the rumbling of an airplane flying over you as if you were near the runway. Impressive.”

    You introduced the term “Immersive Sound” in Tokyo in 2010. Since then, have you set the standard for genuine 3D sound?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “We have undoubtedly developed the most natural sound in the most efficient way by simply adding the third dimension (height) enabling the reproduction of a 3D space, which I called ‘Immersive Sound’ and which has become worldwide the new generic term for “Sound in 3D”. Remarkably, we created Auro-3D without additional bandwidth while using existing standard distribution formats. It can be created with ordinary and even small speakers. For example, 2 million smartphones fitted with our Auro-3D sound have already been sold over the last couple of months.

    Our technology is also ideally suited for its integration into cars. Porsche is the first!”

    Automotive is a new sector for you. How did you end up in it?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Car manufacturers are always looking for new experiences to distinguish themselves from other makes. They discovered our sound and were quickly won over.

    We now work in partnership with several companies. For example, Barco has an exclusive license for our digital cinema technology. More than 600 cinemas are installed, especially in the United States and Asia. More than 200 international films have been released in our format in just a couple of years.

    We present our sound at trade fairs, including the most important technology show CES. At the same time, we’ve managed to attract Continental as a partner for automotive. They are a leading supplier of basic modules for in-car entertainment, or the electronics block fitted in the middle front console of the car. Burmester, the German high-end audio components specialist, develops the audio systems for automotive customers like Porsche and they integrated Auro-3D in their systems. The position and angle at which our speakers should stand (cfr our specs for cinema and home) is also ideal for the incorporation into cars. The fact that our competitors employ speakers that are fitted above in the ceiling ­ or in the roof of a car – gives us yet another edge. Indeed, it’s impossible to build a speaker into the roof of a car, especially in the case of a convertible or glazed roof.”

    What do you hope your product will do for automotive players?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “After test driving the new Porsche Panamera, automotive journalists wrote: “This is a new driving experience”. And then they were not talking about the engine and road handling, but about the high-end surround sound environment that Burmester created with Auro-3D technology.

    We spent several years on R&D with Porsche and Burmester. The Porsche Panamera was launched in September 2016 with a new 3D Immersive Sound experience. Now we are also working on other cars that will be released between 2020 and 2025.

    I am amazed at the number of makes willing to cooperate with us. This is because the audio sounds so true. The advantage is that an expensive system is not necessary for our sound. It also works with cheaper or smaller speakers. Positioning is particularly crucial to create the unique “Auro-3D vertical stereophonic sound field” around the driver and passengers. It can be done in all kinds of vehicles, whether German high-end or middle-class cars.”

    Where do you get your drive to keep improving sound quality?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Everyone knows mono and stereo. Then came 5.1 surround, later 7.1 surround. Every ten years on average, only one new channel seemed to be added, making the sound fuller, more natural and more lifelike. Yet, something was still missing. Surround is actually still 2D sound. I wanted to find a format to capture and reproduce the third dimension in sound.

    I developed Auro-3D myself in 2005. I was inspired by my experiences with 2.2.2, a format that was developed to record classical music. It was a quadraphonic format with 2 additional height speakers in front. I was impressed with the quality of the sound recorded by only 2 additional mics above the orchestra and reproduced in these front height speakers. When no one could tell me why we hear more harmonics and depth because using a specific vertical stereophonic sound field, I began my research. After much thinking, I created a 4-speaker quadrafonic height layer on top of the known 5.1 surround setup (= Auro 9.1) and that’s how I got Auro-3D’s basic speaker layout suitable for all types of music and sound in films, games, sports, etc.” It is a scalable format up to Auro 26.1 which makes only sense in very large rooms like cinema theaters.

    Is the whole Auro Technologies R&D located in Belgium?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Yes, it’s true, we are a 100% Belgian success story. Once I had developed the Auro-3D format concept in 2005, we spent four years here in Mol working in the background on all the technology necessary to incorporate the format into all audio markets. The Auro-Matic, the technology used to convert any sound source into Immersive Sound, played a major role in this. We presented Auro-3D to the world when it was ready in 2010 and all the patents were registered.

    As a result, we can use any source to produce our natural  Immersive Sound. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you are listening to a CD or the radio. We are even able to convert mono sound into Auro-3D sound. This is ground-breaking… and interesting when built into cars, because our findings showed that our radio channel would shift from stereo to mono whenever the radio signal received was not strong enough.”

    Over 10 years, Auro Technologies has expanded from 6 to 75 people. How much do you expect to grow in the coming years?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Last year, there were still 50 of us. We’ve hired 20 people in the past 3 to 4 months, mainly engineers. And we are expecting further growth all over the globe. After many years spent investing, the time has finally come to monetize.

    Our current team of 75 people will play a crucial role in this development and in the business we are setting up today. Most of our engineers are working on the integration of our sound in the equipment and technology of manufacturers. There are so many different chips, platforms and types of software that modifications to our source codes are necessary at a very technical level for each system.

    We are also moving ahead internationally. We opened a first office in Los Angeles. We also have a foothold in China through our Chinese shareholder.

    Our offering is unique in the automotive industry. That’s why more and more car makes want to integrate it in their models. And people always want better sound quality, because they are listening to music more and more in their cars. They no longer have the time to do that at home anymore.

    Our building, our operations, our staff numbers, and our turnover keep growing. Based on current orders, Auro Technologies will see its annual revenue increase from 3 million to 30 million euros. For the first time, after three years in the red, we will also make a profit. I am convinced that Immersive Sound will become the new standard within a few years, also for the more affordable audio systems… and cars.”

    You already had a German shareholder. Since November you also have a Chinese partner. Does this offer you an international advantage?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Certainly. We only conclude partnerships to create a win-win. This also applies to new shareholders. In November 2016, the Chinese Beijing Jetsen Technologies joined us. They invested 28 million dollars into a 20% shareholding, because we were a good fit for them. In the bargain, we got fresh capital and access to a new market.”

    What are your biggest challenges?

    Wilfried Van Baelen: “Marketing our product is now crucial. In terms of innovation, we are now translating Auro-3D into a streaming format that will be presented at NAB (Las Vegas) at the end of this month. This will definitely be the future. We must cooperate with a major streaming player to achieve that. But I cannot reveal more details at this stage.”

     

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  • Two and a half years after DAF Trucks got the go-ahead to build a new paint shop for its cab factory in Westerlo, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters and PACCAR Executive Chairman Mark Pigott officially opened the high-tech cab paint facility. The new facility represents a 100 million euro investment and ensures that DAF

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    Two and a half years after DAF Trucks got the go-ahead to build a new paint shop for its cab factory in Westerlo, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters and PACCAR Executive Chairman Mark Pigott officially opened the high-tech cab paint facility.

    The new facility represents a 100 million euro investment and ensures that DAF Trucks in Flanders sets new standards in quality, efficiency and environmental friendliness.

    This is no small production line that has been added to the existing factory, however. The new paint shop is an impressive 144 metres long, 58 metres wide and 26 metres high.

    100,000 litres of paint saved

    The ultra-modern, fully automated paint robots are capable of spraying 3,000 customer-selected colours, their spray nozzles rotating at a speed of up to 50,000 rpm to produce world-class quality and minimise paint consumption. This means a saving of 100,000 litres of paint compared with the old cab paint facility. There will also be an immediate 50% reduction in emissions, the air will be specially cleaned and heat will be re-used.

    50% more cabs than previously

    The capacity of the new facility is 300 cabs per day, which is 70,000 per year. This represents an increase of 50% over the current paint shop. The capacity increase will accommodate DAF’s future growth in Europe and around the globe.

    Another 30 years of DAF Trucks in Belgium

    Plant Manager Marc Beets said in an interview with BeAutomotive that the new cab paint facility roots DAF Trucks more firmly in Westerlo: “The current cab paint facility has been operational for 30 years. With the new one, we can go on for another 30 years. This means that our position in the Kempen region will be even more secure. You don’t shift a 100 million euro investment without any reason.”

    More than 600 million euros invested

    That’s good news for the 2,600 employees at DAF Trucks in Westerlo. “We’re very committed to the plant, the people, the quality they produce. We’re gonna be here for a while,” says PACCAR Executive Chairman Mark Pigott in this Kanaal Z report.

    “In the past 15 years, PACCAR and DAF have invested over 600 million euros in our Cab and Axle plant. We look forward to a very bright future in Belgium.”

    View here the impressive film of the new facility: DAF: our New Cab Paint Facility

     

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  • Two Belgian companies and one Belgian driver are adding horsepower to the Mahindra Formula E team. Materials specialist Umicore and engineering firm Voxdale are bringing state-of-the-art battery technology as well as design and engineering innovations to the Indian team’s electric racing car. Belgian racer Sam Dejonghe will help develop the test car. The partnership between

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    Two Belgian companies and one Belgian driver are adding horsepower to the Mahindra Formula E team. Materials specialist Umicore and engineering firm Voxdale are bringing state-of-the-art battery technology as well as design and engineering innovations to the Indian team’s electric racing car. Belgian racer Sam Dejonghe will help develop the test car.

    The partnership between Umicore, Voxdale, Sam Dejonghe and the Indian Mahindra Group, worth 19 billion dollars, is remarkable.

    The Mahindra Racing team has high technical and sporting ambitions for its newly developed M4 Electro race car that pushes the limits of technology and innovation. The team hopes to achieve its goals with the help of its new Belgian partners.

    Formula E stands for electric Formula 1

    The electrical alternative to the Formula 1 is gaining in popularity. There are already 14 races on the Formula E World Championship calendar. It’s worth noting that all these races are taking place in the heart of iconic cities, such as New York, Rome, Mexico City, Marrakech and Hong Kong. The driver who manages to get the most out of the standardised battery pack without accidents wins the race.

    Mahindra Racing is one of the ten founding teams to compete in Formula E. It finished third in the July 2017 podium finish and now relies on Belgian innovations to increase its chances of success. Watch this video for an introduction to Formula E.

    Umicore will enhance battery performance

    Umicore and Mahindra Racing have agreed to undertake a technology development programme to enhance the performance of the 12V battery which powers all the mission critical systems running on the Formula E cars. The results of this development work will first be visible in the season five car, when drivers will no longer need to make a mandatory car swap during the race.

    Voxdale to share expertise in design and engineering

    The Belgian innovation company Voxdale is a design, engineering and research agency that focuses on innovation, concept generation and the development of systems and products. The Antwerp based company has already worked on projects in Nascar and INDYCAR racing. It will now be an official design & technology supplier for Mahindra Racing. Voxdale and Mahindra Racing engineers will work together to apply Voxdale’s areas of expertise. “We are convinced that Voxdale’s expertise in design, engineering and simulation will be a great asset for Mahindra Racing,” says CEO of Voxdale, Koen Beyers.

    Belgian test driver is enthusiastic

    Finally, the Belgian racing driver Sam Dejonghe is completing the team as a simulator and development driver. The young and talented Belgian racing driver will work closely with the team’s engineers to test new settings on a race simulator and the test car. “I cannot wait to work in such a professional environment and contribute to improving race car performance,” enthuses Sam Dejonghe. “Due to the specific city racing of Formula E, it’s absolutely critical to prepare and simulate the races well.”

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  • Belgian bus and coach manufacturer Van Hool will deliver 14 brand new tram-buses to De Lijn. The Flemish public transport company is improving and greening its public transport services in the Brussels Noordrand area. The striking tram-buses are a new addition to the Belgian roads. Van Hool launched the Exqui.City Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) model

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    Belgian bus and coach manufacturer Van Hool will deliver 14 brand new tram-buses to De Lijn. The Flemish public transport company is improving and greening its public transport services in the Brussels Noordrand area.

    The striking tram-buses are a new addition to the Belgian roads. Van Hool launched the Exqui.City Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) model in 2014. It won many awards and contracts. European cities such as Metz, Barcelona, Parma, Geneva, Luxembourg, Malmö, Bergen, Linz and Hamburg quickly jumped on the… tram-bus, as you may have read in these articles published on BeAutomotive.

    Energy-efficient and greener than buses

    The Exqui.City combines the flexibility of a bus with the efficiency of light rail. This makes it the epitome of high-quality public transport.

    Tram-buses that ride in their own bedding require fewer investments in infrastructure than light rail and are more energy efficient and greener than conventional buses. They can be powered by a diesel-hybrid engine, a biogas-electric (CNG-hybrid) engine, a fully electric powertrain supplied by batteries or via overhead lines, or soon by fuel cells (hydrogen).

    137 passengers in one single tram-bus

    The hybrid tram-buses destined for De Lijn will be of the ‘Exqui.City 24 Hyb’ type. From the end of 2018, they will ride on the Ring tram-bus line in Brussels’ Noordrand area. A trip between the Heysel and Brussels Airport will not take longer than 38 minutes when they are in service.

    The 24-metre long vehicle can transport 137 passengers. Its four wide doors for boarding and disembarking passengers also facilitate access to wheelchairs, buggies and bicycles.

    The tram-buses can run on both hybrid and fully electric propulsion, for example when leaving the stop and departing from a traffic light.

    25-litre fuel savings per 100 km

    Thanks to their hybrid propulsion platform, combining batteries and a diesel engine, the tram-buses use 25 litres less fuel per 100 kilometres. In the future, they will also be able to run fully electric subject to some modifications and when fast-charging stations are set up along their routes.

    “These green and comfortable tram-buses are good news for those who live and travel in the Noordrand,” says De Lijn General Manager Roger Kesteloot. “Since these hybrid tram-buses recover braking energy, they are up to a quarter quieter and more efficient. Thanks to these 14 hybrid buses, we will save about 200,000 litres of diesel every year and reduce CO2 emissions by about 550 tonnes. This improvement comes on top of the benefits of having 283 new hybrid buses soon across Flanders.”

    Securing jobs in Koningshooikt

    This new order is good for employment in the Van Hool site of Koningshooikt where the company focuses on building vehicles with high added value, such as the Exqui.City.

    Read here the press release issued by Van Hool.

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  • The Bruges site of railway and tram manufacturer Bombardier is converting 53 Antwerp HermeLijn trams. The contract is worth 23 million euros. Siemens Belgium is also involved in the project. The conversion work will allow the famous low-floor HermeLijn trams to be linked together. This will increase the number of public transport seats without requiring

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    The Bruges site of railway and tram manufacturer Bombardier is converting 53 Antwerp HermeLijn trams. The contract is worth 23 million euros. Siemens Belgium is also involved in the project.

    The conversion work will allow the famous low-floor HermeLijn trams to be linked together. This will increase the number of public transport seats without requiring additional drivers or tram stops.

    Largest tram contract ever

    The conversion is not the only tram contract landed by Bombardier. The Belgian site is also a player in the biggest tram contract ever for our country.

    This tram contract awarded by De Lijn involves the production of 146 new trams, worth 295 million euros. Even though it was won by its Spanish competitor CAF, Bombardier and CAF have since concluded a commercial partnership.

    New prospects for employees

    “We have done everything within the legal framework to secure jobs in Bruges,” Flemish Minister of Mobility Ben Weyts commented on the subject. “Both the CAF – Bombardier cooperation for the big tram contract and the new contract to adapt the Antwerp HermeLijn trams in Bruges offer new and tangible opportunities for Bombardier employees.”

    Bombardier to also supply new Albatros trams

    More tram news from Bruges. The first of fourteen new ‘Albatros’ FLEXIBILITY 2 trams will arrive in Antwerp by the end of October. The trams were designed by Antwerp based Axel Enthoven and the Canadian group is building them. The Bruges plant then takes care of the finish.

    The Albatros trams are more accessible to wheelchair users and more energy efficient.

     

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  • Belgium has a new truck factory. The Dutch Beukers Group, through its Limburg based subsidiary E-Trucks Europe, is building a factory for the production of hydrogen-powered trucks in Lommel. 4 million euros are being invested, and some 10 people recruited. The Belgian E-Trucks Europe is currently fitting new and used HGVs with an all-electric powertrain

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    Belgium has a new truck factory. The Dutch Beukers Group, through its Limburg based subsidiary E-Trucks Europe, is building a factory for the production of hydrogen-powered trucks in Lommel. 4 million euros are being invested, and some 10 people recruited.

    The Belgian E-Trucks Europe is currently fitting new and used HGVs with an all-electric powertrain powered by hydrogen, making these trucks emission free and quiet.

    King Philip takes a spin in E-Truck

    King Filip recently supported the company’s innovative character by riding in an E-Truck

    The first workshop for small-scale production of hydrogen-powered trucks is currently being expanded into a new factory. This hydrogen-powered truck production plant is unique in Europe. At full capacity, 50 hydrogen-powered trucks will be produced there each year.

    An interesting niche

    “The market for these trucks is still small, especially because the price is up to 3 times higher than for a conventional truck,” Flip Bamelis from E-Trucks Europe told Made In Limburg. “The big truck manufacturers therefore steer clear of E-Trucks. However, for a company like E-Trucks Europe, it is an interesting niche product ideal for institutions, public administrations and companies keen to lead the way to green mobility.”

    4 million euros and some 10 new jobs

    Owner of the Dutch Beukers Group and Innovation Hero André Beukers is investing 4 million euros in the building project. About ten new jobs have also been announced.

    “Our trucks are ideal for applications in the urban environment, such as refuse collection, urban distribution and container transport,” says Beukers. “We recently converted a rubbish truck that only travelled 79 km a day. In such a case, our 250-km range of action is more than sufficient.”

    Flanders Make provides battery management system

    A hydrogen-powered truck is a fully electric HGV. The difference is that the energy is not supplied by mains power. In fact, hydrogen is converted into electrical energy in the truck itself. This energy is then stored in batteries located on the side of the truck. The battery management system that is crucial in managing energy storage efficiently was developed in collaboration with Flanders Make, the Belgian strategic research centre for the manufacturing industry.

     

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  • The Automotive segment of the Belgian foam rubber manufacturer Recticel is doing well. Active in car seat and dashboard manufacturing, the division experienced strong growth in 2016 with an 18% sales increase. Why the strong sales growth? New contracts. However, the company stood by its strategic decision to sell the Automotive segment. But there is

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    The Automotive segment of the Belgian foam rubber manufacturer Recticel is doing well. Active in car seat and dashboard manufacturing, the division experienced strong growth in 2016 with an 18% sales increase.

    Why the strong sales growth? New contracts.

    However, the company stood by its strategic decision to sell the Automotive segment. But there is no hurry, as Recticel is determined to get the right price for the profitable segment. “We hope to complete the sale by the end of 2018,” the company predicts.

    Recticel excels on the stock exchange

    According to De Tijd newspaper, the foam rubber manufacturer is performing very well on the stock exchange. The reason for its success? The company managed to keep above water despite extreme price increases in the main commodities.

    The prices of the three main ingredients for the products Recticel manufactures have risen since January last year. These products include insulation panels, car seats, mattresses and other foam rubber applications. The chemical raw materials in short supply are TDI (+84%), MDI (+61%) and polyols (+17%).

    Porsche, Mercedes, Volvo and BMW as loyal customers

    Wetteren based Recticel mirrored its price increases with this fast evolution. “In spite of the very strong headwind, we managed to maintain our profits at a more or less similar level,” Recticel CEO Olivier Chapelle told De Tijd. “The group profit dropped by 8% while turnover increased by 6%.”

    The Automotive segment accounts for 19.9% of our Group’s total combined sales.

    It makes, among others, the interiors of the Porsche Macan, Mercedes E-Class, Volvo XC-90, BMW 3 and 4 series and the Peugeot 508.

    Active partner in development

    With the technology-driven Interiors division (Recticel Automotive), the company wants to be an active partner in the development, production and commercialisation of innovative elastomer interior solutions for cars.

    In addition to the Interiors business, Recticel and partner Woodbridge are offering moulded comfort foam pads for car seats.

    Today the Interiors division operates globally from 11 production sites, in China (5), the Czech Republic (2), Germany (2) and the United States (2). The Seating division, whose geographical footprint is restricted to Europe, has 8 production sites, in the Czech Republic (1), France (1), Germany (2), Poland (2), Spain (1) and the United Kingdom (1).

     

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  • 376 exhibitors from 36 countries presented their latest innovations at the Belgian Busworld show. This was the last time the world’s largest bus and coach industry event was taking place in Kortrijk Xpo. Busworld will be held at the Heizel in Brussels within two years. Busworld Europe in Kortrijk had kept growing over the years.

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    376 exhibitors from 36 countries presented their latest innovations at the Belgian Busworld show. This was the last time the world’s largest bus and coach industry event was taking place in Kortrijk Xpo. Busworld will be held at the Heizel in Brussels within two years.

    Busworld Europe in Kortrijk had kept growing over the years. It had become so successful that the organisers had to disappoint 70 would-be exhibitors due to lack of exhibition space: a shortage of 51,230 m2 to be precise. Even the pond in front of the 10 halls was used to accommodate exhibitors. The lack of exhibition and parking spaces is the primary reason for relocating the event to Brussels.

    311 buses on display

    The fair was founded in 1971 by Luc Glorieux as a very local event with 500 visitors and one hall, largely filled by Belgian bus manufacturers Van Hool and Jonckheere (now VDL Bus). Over the past decades, the trade show has become a great success, with 40,000 visitors and 376 exhibitors from 36 countries. There were 60 new exhibitors this year, and Turkey topped the list with no fewer than 61 participants.

    A total of 311 buses and coaches were exhibited. No less than 22 Belgian companies had a stand at the show. Here you will find the list of all exhibitors and companies on the waiting list.

    Towards zero-emission transport

    “When we started organising fairs in China and other countries, our own show grew tenfold,” organiser Luc Glorieux told De Tijd newspaper. “Bus companies from those countries also wanted to exhibit in Kortrijk and visit. We also benefit from the emergence of alternative drives such as hybrid, electrical and hydrogen. In 2010, there were only diesel engines here. Since 10 percent of the buses are powered by electricity and 5 percent by other alternative energy sources, every bus manufacturer has to exhibit 15 percent more vehicles, which contributed to the show’s crazy expansion.”

    Motivated staff wanted

    Greener buses and coaches are indeed a hot topic on the show’s floor and in the presentations and activities taking place around it.

    “We are evolving to zero emissions,” says Charlotte Engels, Manager of Belgian Automet which creates customised transport solutions.

    “We will have to say goodbye to a single drive type for every application,” Engels told the newspaper Krant van West-Vlaanderen. “City buses, for instance, will be all-electric, while intercity buses will need hybrid solutions. For long-haul buses, I can’t imagine that the combustion engine will disappear right way.”

    “In addition, I see that everyone is looking for motivated people. We are talking about drivers, tour guides, technicians, planners, administrative clerks, etc. We need more people, especially motivated people with fresh ideas, to grow the sector.”

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  • The Belgian independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles Van Hool will be the first to launch a fully electric-powered coach of the CX45E type on the North American market. This most efficient and best-performing long-distance eCoach will be shuttling Google employees from 2019. The Belgian company Van Hool is supplying many of the

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    The Belgian independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles Van Hool will be the first to launch a fully electric-powered coach of the CX45E type on the North American market. This most efficient and best-performing long-distance eCoach will be shuttling Google employees from 2019.

    The Belgian company Van Hool is supplying many of the buses used by tech companies like Google and Facebook. The new Van Hool all-electric coach  will be quieter than diesel buses and, with zero emissions, is set to significantly reduce pollution levels.

    Innovation from Belgium

    The CX45E will be wholly designed and developed in Belgium, in the Van Hool parent company’s R&D centre in Koningshooikt. “After receiving requests from a number of customers for a fully electric-powered coach, we at Van Hool sought a solution,” says Filip Van Hool, CEO of Van Hool. The first prototypes will be built in Belgium as well. The mass production of the CX45E will take place in Skopje, Macedonia.

    Van Hool and its American sales partner ABC Bus Companies are responding to the demand for a truly zero-emission solution. The CX45E is not just a green solution. It will also reduce operating costs, while the performance, reliability and safety characteristics of the Van Hool CX line will remain the same.

    10,000 Van Hool coaches and buses in the US

    “This announcement is the icing on the cake as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cooperation between Van Hool and its exclusive partner ABC Bus Companies Inc. on the North American market,” says Filip Van Hool. “After all these years of hard work to meet to our customers’ high expectations, we, together, have succeeded in putting Van Hool on the map in the United States. Today over 10,000 Van Hool coaches and buses are operating on North-American roads, including a number of large Silicon Valley companies that organise shuttle services for their employees as well as many other customers.” He added: “The diesel CX45 coach has a proven track record, and in the meantime has become a benchmark coach on the American market.”

    Battery with a range of 300+ km

    Van Hool selected a leading American producer of battery technology for heavy-duty vehicles to provide the Proterra E2 battery technology. The 100% electric-powered vehicle will have a range of action of 300+ km.

    “Van Hool is truly excited and proud to partner up with Proterra, a pioneering company in the development and production of battery technology,” says Filip Van Hool.

    The fully electric coach is expected to stop the release of hundreds of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. At the same time, it will be saving customers tens of thousands of dollars on fuel and maintenance expenses.

    Van Hool was founded in 1947. Today the Belgian company has over 4,400 employees worldwide, most of whom work at the production sites in Koningshooikt (Belgium) and Skopje (Macedonia).

    Read the press release: Van Hool builds first 100% electric coach for the American market

     

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  • Recente Europese wetgeving legt op dat alle nieuwe automodellen uitgerust worden met de Europese eCall dienst, en dit vanaf april 2018. Het gaat over een dienst voor noodoproepen die automatisch het nummer 112 belt en incident-gerelateerde gegevens doorseint naar de hulpdiensten. Eén en ander werkt op voorwaarde dat voertuigconstructeurs hun voertuigen uitrusten met de nodige

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    Nieuwe Europese eCall-wetgeving, een game-changer?

    Recente Europese wetgeving legt op dat alle nieuwe automodellen uitgerust worden met de Europese eCall dienst, en dit vanaf april 2018. Het gaat over een dienst voor noodoproepen die automatisch het nummer 112 belt en incident-gerelateerde gegevens doorseint naar de hulpdiensten.

    Eén en ander werkt op voorwaarde dat voertuigconstructeurs hun voertuigen uitrusten met de nodige hardware, de telecom operatoren voorrang geven aan eCall oproepen en dat de overheden hun noodhulpcentrales geschikt maken voor eCall data.

    Het is voor het eerst dat Europese regelgeving drie betrokken partijen aanspreekt en hen verplichtingen oplegt in het kader van eenzelfde resultaat, namelijk efficiëntere noodhulp tijdens het zogenaamde gouden uur!

    Overtuigd van belang van eCall

    De voertuigconstructeurs zijn reeds geruime tijd overtuigd van het belang van eCall. Zo heeft Peugeot-Citroen reeds 10 jaar haar eigen automatisch noodoproep systeem op de markt. Volvo en BMW volgden, wat ook andere constructeurs nog zullen doen.

    De nieuwe Europese wetgeving een game-changer?

    Jawel om twee redenen:

    1. Of het nu gaat over verkeersveiligheid, mobiliteit of milieu, stappen voorwaarts zullen meer en meer, zo niet uitsluitend, het resultaat zijn van samenwerking (of wisselwerking) tussen verschillende partners. Voertuig constructeurs en overheden zullen in veel gevallen samen een actieve rol spelen.

    2. eCall kan ook gezien worden als voorloper van heel wat andere, wellicht nog meer gevorderde, ITS functies zoals verbonden voertuigen en vervolgens autonome voertuigen.

    Startschot voor mobiele diensten

    De markt voor mobiele diensten als deel van de “connected car” wordt al lang een grote toekomst voorspeld maar komt maar traag op gang. Het gaat in de eerste plaats om diensten die voertuigconstructeur aanbieden zoals navigatiehulp met fijnmazige informatie, diagnose van problemen op afstand, en het updaten van kaartmateriaal en software. Ook andere sectoren zoals leasingmaatschappijen, verzekeraars, pechverhelpers en uitbaters van laadinfrastructuur zien brood in het “verbonden voertuig”.

    De Europese eCall regelgeving staat dus model voor heel wat andere ITS-toepassingen en werkt naar we hopen als katalysator!

    Peter Van der Perre, directeur ITS.be

    ITS staat voor Intelligente Transport Systemen. ITS.be is een publiek-privaat partnership dat de uitrol van diensten met publieke en private afhankelijkheden ondersteunt. Zo ontwikkelde ITS.be samen met haar leden eenzelfde technisch en juridisch kader om zowel de bestaande als de Europese eCall diensten in België te ondersteunen.

    Contacteer de auteur via pv@its.be

     

     

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About us

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Welcome to the website of the Belgian automotive industry

Belgium is synonymous with a thriving and dynamic automotive industry. Building vehicles and developing and producing components has been embedded in the DNA of our country for decades.

Today, about 300 companies create added value for the Belgian automotive industry. Located in the heart of the European Union, Belgium houses three assembly plants for cars, a truck assembly plant and two major bus builders, many manufacturers of trailers and bodybuilders. Other companies covering an extensive range of related activities are also established here: sales, marketing, R&D, coordination for Central Europe, training and logistics.

The great variety of automotive manufacturers and assembly plants has prompted the creation in Belgium of a strong network of (OEM) suppliers of auto parts, technology providers and service providers during the past year. This knowledge-intensive industry is also backed by reputable research centres and universities. In their collaboration with the industry they are constantly looking for new technologies to shape the future. Schools and third-level colleges have been producing highly skilled and motivated young professionals for several decades.

The people working in the Belgian automotive industry are well known for their hands-on attitude, their focus on the customer and quality, and their automotive spirit in general.

Various research institutions, each with its own focus, are conducting in-depth research work for the automotive industry – be it on powertrains and control systems, new materials and alternative energy sources, electronics or ICT for vehicles.

Every year, more than 480,000 cars and over 40,000 commercial vehicles, buses and trailers come out of the assembly lines. Belgium is one the world’s top vehicle producers on a per capita basis. More than 90% of the assembled vehicles are intended for export. More than 3 million cars and other vehicles are shipped annually from the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge.  With a workforce of 70,000, the automotive industry directly and indirectly accounts for almost 10% of the jobs in the Belgian industry.

Belgium is definitely a key player in the European and by extension global market that the automotive industry represents.

KEY FIGURES

· 300 companies
· 70,000 employees
· 10% of industrial employment
· EUR 25 billion turnover
· 10% of Belgian exports
· 90% export ratio

CONTACT US

BeAutomotive.be
info@beautomotive.be

BeAutomotive.be is an initiative of Agoria vzw and Febiac vzw.
www.agoria.bewww.febiac.be

Companies & organisations

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Events

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  • Major expostion: American Dream Cars & Bikes

    15/12/2017 - 28/01/2018

    Everything was possible on the America scene of the ‘50s and ‘60s. The exhibition at Autoworld will relive that American automobile era in all its splendour, when constructors rivalled for imagination and at times … eccentricity. Increasingly life organised itself around the road and cars, and in the ‘60s we see the birth of a new way of life with the ‘drive in’ both with the fast-food eateries and the cinema. This exhibition fully portrays this unique atmosphere. Just think of those films such as Grease or American Graffiti… and dream on …

    Autoworld
    Parc du Cinquantenaire 11
    1000 Brussels

     

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  • WORKSHOP: Zelf aan de slag met lijmen

    13/12/2017

    Op woensdag 13 december 2017 organiseren Flanders Make, Sirris, BIL en Agoria, in samenwerking met KU Leuven, campus Brugge een workshop rond verlijmen.  In deze hands-on sessie gaat u zelf aan de slag met enkele lijmsystemen en verschillende substraatmaterialen, en ondervindt u wat de invloeden zijn van de productieparameters op de eindkwaliteit. Kortom, u maakt kennis met de veelzijdigheid van verlijmen, maar tevens krijgt u inzicht in de randvoorwaarden en risico’s.  De workshop is bedoeld voor iedereen die op een praktische manier meer kennis wenst te vergaren rond verlijmen.

    13/12/2017 - 12:30 tot 18:00
    KU Leuven, Campus Brugge, Spoorwegstraat 12, 8200 Brugge

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  • SEMINAR: ‘Fleet-based analytics for data-driven operation and maintenance optimisation’

    13/12/2017

    Many companies that operate a fleet of machines and continuously monitor its operation, do not fully exploit the enormous amount of collected data. Usually this data is merely used by maintenance and service personnel for reactive maintenance. Some lead user companies have recently shifted to proactive maintenance (using advanced exploitation of data), but even in these cases the analysis is realised at individual machine level. This leaves a huge potential of untapped exploitation opportunities at fleet level. By comparing the behaviour of a single machine with respect to the one of  its fleet, more detailed and more accurate knowledge can be extracted.

    During the seminar, two renown keynote speakers will shed their light on the current state-of-play in this domain, both from an industrial as well as from a research perspective. Furthermore, the opportunities that fleet-based analytics creates as well as the challenges encountered in exploiting fleet-based data will be illustrated with several industrial real-world use cases showing the potential of the approach in industrial machinery, (renewable) energy and transport. The event will be concluded with a tech brokerage, during which several companies and universities will showcase their technological solutions to tackle these challenges.

    Wed, 13/12/2017 - 13:00 to 18:00
    Sirris, Technologiepark 935, 9052 Zwijnaarde

     

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  • WEBINAR: On EMI risk management

    11/01/2018

    Electromagnetic interference (EMI) may be annoying – think of the buzz in a stereo when receiving a phone call- but it is not necessarily life threatening. However, two trends warrant appropriate concern: high-tech electronics is being used more and more for safety-related functions and electronic devices are increasingly vulnerable to EMI because of a lower intrinsic immunity and an increasingly severe electromagnetic environment.

    Combined expertise in Electro-Magnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Functional Safety (FS) will gain huge importance in many sectors such as automotive, robotics, medical, railways, avionics, … Unfortunately, EMC and FS have evolved separately and share no concepts nor terminology.

    Therefore, EMI risk management must go well beyond the current state-of-the-art in classical EMC engineering. This webinar will guide you on how you should deal with EMI risks in your functional safety process for your electronic products.

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 – 10:00 to 11:00

     

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  • 2 days Masterclass: 'Design for additive manufacturing'

    25/04/2018

    Additive Manufacturing (AM) is emerging as a viable alternative within the manufacturing industry. This 2 days masterclass will give you the knowledge and insight needed to design components specifically for AM, which will allow you to take full advantage of this technology.

    During the masterclass, we will work on a case that every participant brings from his own company or work situation.

    This masterclass is aimed at anyone involved in the design process: designers, engineers, production managers and R&D managers.

    Sirris, Technologiepark 935, 9052 Zwijnaarde

     

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  • 2 days Masterclass: 'Design for additive manufacturing'

    22/05/2018

    Additive Manufacturing (AM) is emerging as a viable alternative within the manufacturing industry. This 2 days masterclass will give you the knowledge and insight needed to design components specifically for AM, which will allow you to take full advantage of this technology.

    During the masterclass, we will work on a case that every participant brings from his own company or work situation.

    This masterclass is aimed at anyone involved in the design process: designers, engineers, production managers and R&D managers.

    Sirris, Liège Science Park, Rue Bois Saint-Jean 12, 4102 Seraing

     

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Invest in Belgium

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Belgium has always been a prosperous market place, taking advantage of its central location in the heart of Europe to offset its rather small size with a highly competitive industry and service sector and strong anchoring in the globalised world.

 

// Most globalised country
Belgium is the most globalised country in the world. About 120 international governmental organisations and 181 embassies (3,000 diplomats) are located in Brussels, along with 1,400 NGOs. Nowhere else, besides New York, is there such a permanent international presence.

// 500 million European consumers
Belgium is your gateway to Europe, because it connects you to potentially 500 million affluent consumers. In addition, our small domestic market is considered convenient to test new products.

Today, more than 300 automotive companies employing 85,000 highly qualified people are active in the Belgian vehicle industry.

// Largest port worldwide for new vehicle handling
Belgium is the No. 1 distribution location in Europe, with one of the densest road, rail and waterborne transport networks in the world. With nearly 500 km of roads, 11 km of railways and 5 km of inland waterways per 100 km². This network is essential to interconnect 4 seaports – including their terminals –, 5 airports and a growing number of extended gateways. Every year 3.3 million vehicles are shipped from Belgium’s ports. The Port of Zeebrugge handles some 1.8 million new cars a year, making it the world’s largest new vehicle handling facility.

// Leader in distribution
For the past six years Cushman & Wakefield’s European Distribution Report has ranked Belgium “Europe’s best base for logistics and distribution operations”, while two macro-economic studies by the same firm have placed Flanders as the leading region for distribution. Companies selecting Flanders will be joining an already thriving industry covering a comprehensive range of sectors, such as the vehicle industry.

// Innovative tax regime
Belgian and foreign companies annually invest 400 to 500 million euro in the vehicle industry, stimulated by the Belgian tax regime.This regime is based on the principle of global equity, which entails no discrimination between foreign and domestic companies. The flat nominal tax rate seems quite high, but in practice fiscal and financial incentives quite substantially lower the tax due. As an example, the so-called Notional interest deduction allows businesses to deduce amounts subject to taxation up to their invested capital.

Numerous tax treaties have also been concluded with third countries in order to avoid double taxation.

// Winning together
The Belgian workforce has the EU-27 highest productivity (IMD “World Competitiveness Report 2009”) and Belgium is the 5th most productive country in the world (The Conference Board 2011).

Key contributing factors to such high workforce engagement include: high flexibility, ability to speak multiple languages, a versatile workforce capable of adapting to changing working conditions and environments, highly qualified and educated young workers, etc.

Business cooperation between 16 universities, a broad-based community of world-class scientific institutes and third-level technical institutions provides strong impetus to R&D and makes sure the changing needs of a global market place can be met  through on-going training.

Please read ’9 good reasons to invest in Belgium’ published by the Belgian Federal Government

9 GOOD REASONS TO INVEST IN BELGIUM

· Open economy
· Access to European decision-
makers
· Access to a high quality
workforce
· Knowledge and creativity-
based centre of Excellence
· Access to 500 million European
consumers
· Logistics springboard
· Intelligent tax regime
· Affordable real estate prices
· A Great place to live
BeAutomotive.be
info@beautomotive.be

BeAutomotive.be is an initiative of Agoria vzw and Febiac vzw.
www.agoria.be – www.febiac.be