• Once again, the Belgian Volvo Car Gent plant is reinforcing its anchoring in Ghent. Swedish Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson has confirmed that the plant will build the V40’s successor. The XC40 was also recently assigned to the Belgian team. Over the coming years, the Volvo Ghent plant can prepare for the two new models

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    Once again, the Belgian Volvo Car Gent plant is reinforcing its anchoring in Ghent. Swedish Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson has confirmed that the plant will build the V40’s successor. The XC40 was also recently assigned to the Belgian team.

    Over the coming years, the Volvo Ghent plant can prepare for the two new models built on the new CMA platform.

    The new XC40 made in Ghent

    The first CMA car in Ghent is expected to be a compact-sized crossover called the XC40. Production will soon kick-start and Ghent will build the new cars for the European and American markets. “The Volvo XC40 will be a big success,” said Eric Van Landeghem, plant manager on a previous occasion.

    The second model will be the successor to the V40 which is currently being built in Ghent.

    “The new model will replace the V40 in volume. However, this car will not necessarily be in the same segment,” Håkan Samuelsson indicated at the press conference. “It will be an attractive and forward-looking model for a growing and global market segment.”

    Production of this second new model will be launched at the plant in a few years, when the current V40 reaches the end of its lifecycle.

    Volvo’s trust confirmed

    5,500 people are currently working at Volvo Car Gent, building three models: the V40, S60 and XC60.

    “The fact that the Ghent plant has Volvo’s trust is a positive omen,” commented a satisfied Van Landeghem. With this news the car manufacturer is confirming what Van Landeghem had told BeAutomotive in a previous interview: “We’ve been asked to assemble as many Volvos as possible. Our two models, the XC60 crossover model and the V40, are selling like hot cakes. They are two popular cars which have reached peak sales. And what do we do? Of course, we immediately seize the opportunity and say that we can manage the production increase, and also succeed in achieving that goal.”

    200 million euro investment

    The transformation to the CMA platform will also be successful. 200 million euros are being invested in this new platform designed especially for smaller, compact cars. At the end of this year, Ghent will roll the platform’s first model, the XC40, off the production line.


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  • Roeselare based VDL Bus & Coach has received its largest order ever. Over the next few years, it will supply the Dutch public transport company Connexxion with as many as 100 electric buses. In the VDL Group, VDL Bus Roeselare specialises in electric and hybrid buses. The new record order is certainly good news for

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    Roeselare based VDL Bus & Coach has received its largest order ever. Over the next few years, it will supply the Dutch public transport company Connexxion with as many as 100 electric buses.

    In the VDL Group, VDL Bus Roeselare specialises in electric and hybrid buses. The new record order is certainly good news for the Agoria member and Belgian operation of VDL Bus & Coach.

    It will deliver a hundred electric buses to Dutch public transport company Connexxion, immediately setting a record in the Netherlands. Once the order is complete, Connexxion will have the largest fleet of electric buses in Europe.

    Leader in electric mobility

    According to plant manager Peter Wouters, this is “wonderful news” for VDL Bus Roeselare.

    “This is the largest order for electric buses with fast charging technology to date,” says Wouters. “This confirms our leading position in electric mobility.”

    Late last year, VDL Bus Roeselare already landed a contract for 43 electric buses for the Eindhoven region (Eindhoven area puts 43 electric buses in service – built by VDL Bus Roeselare).

    Production anchored in Western Europe

    Good news from the VDL Group in the Netherlands after Willem van der Leegte took over from his father in November. The son, too, wants to keep the manufacturing in Western Europe. “We prefer to stay close to home,” Van der Leegte told Trends. “It’s easier to communicate in your mother tongue. It feels better. It requires less energy. It’s about the pride that I see in the eyes of our people when I meet them in the supermarket.”

    24 hours a day

    The buses will have their batteries topped up periodically so they can operate 24 hours a day.

    “This is the first stage in the transition to completely emission-free public transport for Amstelland-Meerlanden. Naturally, we are using all we have learned in the South-east Brabant concession, where VDL successfully supplied us with 43 articulated Citeas Electric. Therefore, we have every confidence in the product and the collaboration with VDL,” says Eric van Eijndhoven, public transport director for Connexxion.

    Read the full press release here: 100 electric VDL Citeas and 18 VDL Futura double-deckers for Connexxion.

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  • DAF Trucks has strengthened its market position in Europe. In 2016, its market share in the heavy segment (16+ tonnes) grew considerably by 0.9 percentage point to 15.5%. The Westerlo plant is expanding accordingly. In Belgium, DAF now holds a 19.1% market share. This makes Belgium one of the Group’s strongest countries, with a manufacturing

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    DAF Trucks has strengthened its market position in Europe. In 2016, its market share in the heavy segment (16+ tonnes) grew considerably by 0.9 percentage point to 15.5%. The Westerlo plant is expanding accordingly.

    In Belgium, DAF now holds a 19.1% market share. This makes Belgium one of the Group’s strongest countries, with a manufacturing site in Westerlo, among other locations.

    Production in Westerlo mirrors growth

    The increasing popularity of DAF Trucks can be explained by its wide range.

    “The current generation of DAF trucks are the best ever,” DAF Westerlo plant manager, Marc Beets, tells BeAutomotive. “Not only do they consume relatively little fuel; they are also incredibly reliable and extremely robust. We’ve seen a rise in the demand for our trucks in recent years as a result.

    In Westerlo, DAF Trucks manufactures cabs and axles. If demand for our DAF trucks rises, production in Westerlo increases accordingly, and so does our suppliers’ business.”

    220 cabs and 550 axles a day

    The Westerlo plant is currently producing some 220 cabs and 550 axles daily. Each cab and each axle is built to the customer’s specific requirements. Once these axles and cabins are built, they are transported by road to the plant in Eindhoven (Netherlands) where they arrive just in time to be mounted onto the right frame.

    Over 100 million euro investment

    DAF Trucks is investing continuously in the Westerlo manufacturing plant. The new cab paint shop is the most impressive innovation. It is the world’s most environment-friendly paint shop. Over 100 million euro were invested in it, which is proof that the Group has strengthened its anchoring in the Kempen region even more.

    The new cab paint shop will be officially commissioned shortly. The first cabs are expected to come out of the paint shop in May.

    Current employment strong enough

    In 2015, 400 additional employees were recruited, raising the total number of people employed in the Westerlo plant to 2,400.

    “We are able to meet the growing production demand by organising work processes optimally and retraining blue and white-collar employees,” adds Beets.

    DAF has strengthened its position in almost all European countries and is market leader in the Netherlands, the UK, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.

    DAF Trucks remains ambitious. “We aim to raise our European market share from 16% to 20% over the coming years. The impact of such growth on jobs in Westerlo is impossible to estimate.”

     

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  • Volvo Cars has been named a 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company, a first for the car manufacturer. “Volvo Cars embraces policies of diversity and inclusion, is committed to ethical leadership and demonstrates the values of a true global citizen.” 124 companies have been listed this year by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining

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    Volvo Cars has been named a 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company, a first for the car manufacturer. “Volvo Cars embraces policies of diversity and inclusion, is committed to ethical leadership and demonstrates the values of a true global citizen.”

    124 companies have been listed this year by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. Volvo Cars is one of only four companies in the automotive industry.

    “I’m very proud that Volvo Cars has been recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Responsible business is a fundamental part of Volvo Cars’ heritage, and ingrained in our corporate culture. An ethical approach is not just the right thing to do; it brings financial value too.”

    Ghent shares awards

    Volvo Cars has a plant in Ghent where almost 6,000 employees produce the V40, S60 and XC60 models. Last year, 450 additional staff were hired to roll off the assembly lines more than 250,000 cars, setting a new record.

    “Congratulations to all at Volvo Car Group for being recognised as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies”, said Timothy Erblich, Ethisphere’s Chief Executive Officer. “Volvo Cars embraces policies of diversity and inclusion, is committed to ethical leadership and demonstrates the values of a true global citizen.”

    Training in ethical business practices

    Volvo Cars implements a comprehensive Compliance and Ethics Programme aiming at preventing and mitigating a range of legal and ethical risks, covering areas such as corruption, human rights, competition law, export control and data privacy. This includes a Code of Conduct, based on international conventions and standards, which governs and guides the actions of all our employees and business partners.

    Volvo Cars is committed to fostering a culture of Ethical Leadership. Last year, a new training programme for managers was launched which focuses on responsible and ethical business practices. To date, over 400 employees have received this training.

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  • Bruges seaport consolidates its leading position as the world’s biggest automotive hub. 2.8 million cars were shipped from Zeebrugge which also reached record employment figures with 1,695 dock workers. Zeebrugge is by far the world’s largest port when it comes to car transhipments. A whopping 2,776,113 cars were shipped in 2016. “We were up by

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    Bruges seaport consolidates its leading position as the world’s biggest automotive hub. 2.8 million cars were shipped from Zeebrugge which also reached record employment figures with 1,695 dock workers.

    Zeebrugge is by far the world’s largest port when it comes to car transhipments. A whopping 2,776,113 cars were shipped in 2016.

    “We were up by 14.3% compared to 2015,” says Managing Director of the Zeebrugge Port Authority Joachim Coens. The countries showing the most growth in automotive in Zeebrugge are the United States (+ 47.5%), Sweden (+ 31.7%) and Spain (+ 25.4%).

    In the interview with BeAutomotive Coens said: “We are growing to 3.4 million cars”.

    7.6% more dockers

    The growing traffic has a positive impact on employment. Never has Zeebrugge employed that many dockers, wrote newspaper Krant van West-Vlaanderen: 1,695 in December 2016, or 7.6% more than in 2015. Last year, dockers worked 342,712 shifts, which is 15.4% more than the year before.

    This year also promises to be a good one. New car flows have already started in 2017, from the Far East and to Ireland.

    Ground-breaking ceremony at sea lock in 2017

    Efforts are being made to open up the inner harbour to ship traffic in order to accommodate the  growing automotive sector. The port has initiated the Strategic Harbour Infrastructure Project or SHIP to that effect.

    The old Visart lock will be replaced by a new sea lock farther inland. A channel will be created at the site of the current Visart lock, giving access to a limited open tidal zone extending up to the new lock.

    “Minister Ben Weyts promised that the ground-breaking ceremony will take place during the current parliamentary term. I am confident he will keep this promise.”

    Expanding for automotive

    Also for the port’s automotive activities, Coens plans to expand capacity by 156 hectares. “At present, 390 hectares of our inner port are allocated to automotive logistics. 70 hectares are still unoccupied along the Boudewijnkanaal,” says Coens, “where a new quay wall of 1,130 metres should give sea-going vessels the option to berth there in the future.”

    Watch here the video of automotive activities in the Port of Zeebrugge.

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  • Facil, the Belgian Full Service Provider of fasteners and other C-parts to the automotive, truck and related industries, has signed a new contract with one of its most important customers, Ford. Already a loyal customer of Genk based Facil, the car manufacturer recently selected the Belgian company as a key partner in the production of

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    Facil, the Belgian Full Service Provider of fasteners and other C-parts to the automotive, truck and related industries, has signed a new contract with one of its most important customers, Ford.

    Already a loyal customer of Genk based Facil, the car manufacturer recently selected the Belgian company as a key partner in the production of the new Ford Focus.

    The contract covers the FSP service for the new Ford Focus to be produced in Ford’s Saarlouis plant.

    Success story with Ford

    This contract reinforces Facil‘s success story with Ford.

    Covering a period of 5 years, the intensive partnership deal involves not only the logistical supply of all fasteners but also active collaboration in all aspects of fastening technology, as well as in the development phase of the new model.

    Rolling out a global strategy

    “Facil is the Belgian service provider of small parts”, Facil CEO, René Achten, stated in an earlier BeAutomotive interview entitled “Our customers save 5% a year on fasteners”. “We are now rolling out our global strategy.”

    Starting from its home base in Limburg, Facil has opened branches in Europe, North and Central America, China, Thailand and Japan. With their approach, they also provide a unique added value to the car and truck manufacturers that are today their main customer sectors.

    Coordination from Belgium

    In total, nearly 100 of the overall 400 Facil employees work in Belgium. The entire staff is here and coordination is done from Belgium. The service to solve local problems is provided locally at customers.

     

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  • Rotselaar based Atos Engineering holds a unique position in its sector. Every single seatbelt in the world is tested by one of its machines. Worldwide, the company supplies small and large test equipment. No other company holds such a strong position in its niche than Atos Engineering. The seatbelts in your car were tested and

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    Rotselaar based Atos Engineering holds a unique position in its sector. Every single seatbelt in the world is tested by one of its machines. Worldwide, the company supplies small and large test equipment.

    No other company holds such a strong position in its niche than Atos Engineering. The seatbelts in your car were tested and found safe after undergoing a fully automatic test in one of its machines. The same goes for the seatbelts in your neighbour’s car, your uncle’s in Australia or your niece’s in the United States.

    Belgian SME rules the world

    Atos Engineering is one of the many hidden champions in our country, an SME that is a worldwide leader in its market. Through the series of feature articles published in De Tijd newspaper under the title “Verborgen Kampioenen” (Hidden Champions), we zoom in on Rotselaar based Atos Engineering.

    Fully automatic testing in 6 seconds

    Atos Engineering is the only company in the world to design and manufacture highly specialised machines in which seatbelts undergo a range of tests. Founder and CEO Frans Proost told De Tijd that his company sold about 600 seatbelt test equipment units over the past 25 years, solely to foreign companies. The sale price ranges between 30,000 and 350,000 euros for each machine. The most innovative and fully automated equipment is capable of testing a seatbelt every 6 seconds.

    Increasing added value

    The company’s future lies in electronic seatbelts. These belts adjust their tension to the road and driving conditions detected by the vehicle’s sensors. ”I also expect a lot of the self-driving cars,” says Proost. “These require increasingly complex test systems. Thanks to our good relationship with automotive, we are the first to know what the industry needs. This enables us to develop machines with higher added value… that we can sell at a higher price than simpler models.”

     

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  • Over 500 million euros. The record sales of Punch Powertrain in Sint-Truiden in 2016. A whopping 50% more than the year before, during which the specialist in stepless transmissions had already doubled its sales. The company expects to reach the 1.5 billion euro mark by 2020. Sint-Truiden has been the scene of fascinating growth. Seven

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    Over 500 million euros. The record sales of Punch Powertrain in Sint-Truiden in 2016. A whopping 50% more than the year before, during which the specialist in stepless transmissions had already doubled its sales. The company expects to reach the 1.5 billion euro mark by 2020.

    Sint-Truiden has been the scene of fascinating growth. Seven years ago, Punch Powertrain almost went bankrupt. A number of investors such as LRM and the Flemish investment firm Gimv decided to take the risk to inject capital into the venture, while CEO Cor van Otterloo managed to breathe new life into the company by focusing on CVT transmission systems for the Asian market.

    Record sales netted in Asian markets

    2016 ended with a turnover of over 500 million euros. A figure confirmed by Punch Powertrain CEO Cor van Otterloo to the daily newspaper Het Belang van Limburg. These sales were generated in countries like China, Malaysia and Taiwan. Geely, the Chinese owner of Volvo, is currently the biggest customer, with one of its best-selling sedans in China equipped with the Punch CVT.

    In China, Punch Powertrain supplies some 15 car manufacturers and also has a production site. This allows the company to tap into the growing car market of this vast country.

    Chinese investment in Sint-Truiden

    The sale of the Belgian company to the Chinese group Yinyi was the other big event of 2016.

    Van Otterloo is convinced this sale is very good news. “Our shareholder only talks about investing… in Sint-Truiden. And there isn’t a Chinese executive watching over my shoulder. Since R&D and the production of key components remain in Sint-Truiden, the anchoring of Punch Powertrain in Belgium is secured.”

    Hundreds of additional jobs in automotive

    “In 2007 we had 17 men in our R&D. Today more than 300 people,” Cor van Otterloo said in a previous interview with BeAutomotive. “This number will keep growing as a result of our forthcoming plans. After Toyota, we have the largest R&D department in the Belgian automotive industry.”

    A new R&D complex with a testing centre – that requires a total of 500 experts – and expansion of the production facility will eventually add another 280 jobs at the headquarters.

    The new R&D complex, including a new test centre with different test rigs, a new prototype workshop and a high-tech test track will lead to the creation of 130 R&D jobs and 50 supporting jobs. Additionally, increased production capacity in Sint-Truiden will create another 100 new jobs.

    Punch Powertrain created 722 new jobs in 2016 across the 3 facilities of Sint-Truiden, Nanjing and Eindhoven. Both the Sint-Truiden and Nanjing sites, which are similar in size, experienced a similar growth of about 60% in 2016.

    Another 1 billion euros over 4 years

    The future looks bright for Punch Powertrain. A few key figures?

    • Over the next five years, Punch Powertrain will invest 400 million euros in further growth.
    • At present, 60 million euros have been invested in the Sint-Truiden plant, especially in manufacturing.
    • A new development centre will be built next to the existing plant.
    • Punch expects to reach a turnover of 1.5 billion euros by 2020. Or another one billion euros over 4 years.
    • By 2021 Punch hopes to get its first European car manufacturer as a customer.
    • The workforce in HQ in Sint-Truiden is set to rise from its present level of 870 employees to over 1,500 by 2020.

     

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  •   As of Sunday, 11 December 2016, the Eindhoven area has one of the largest electric bus fleets in Europe. The new timetable was introduced on that day by passenger transport company Hermes, which is now running 43 innovative VDL Citea SLFA Electric buses. The vehicles do not release harmful emissions and are much quieter

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    As of Sunday, 11 December 2016, the Eindhoven area has one of the largest electric bus fleets in Europe. The new timetable was introduced on that day by passenger transport company Hermes, which is now running 43 innovative VDL Citea SLFA Electric buses. The vehicles do not release harmful emissions and are much quieter than regular buses. The buses are recharged when not in use, providing them with sufficient range for a whole day. VDL also supplied the charging stations and is delivering the electricity to them, in partnership with the power company. Therefore, in addition to supplying buses, VDL is also a system supplier.

    The VDL Citea SLFA Electric is an 18.1 metre long electric articulated bus with an innovative, futuristic BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) design. Since the delivery of the 43 Citea SLFA Electric buses, Eindhoven in Netherlands North Brabant has one of the largest zero-emission bus fleets in Europe. The rapid transit – based on the ‘show up and go’ system – of the buses on certain lines is comparable to a tram system. These high-frequency lines serve the main destinations in Eindhoven, such as Eindhoven Airport and the High Tech Campus.

    Within VDL Bus & Coach, VDL Bus Roeselare is the product owner of zero-emission buses. The production of these buses has also taken place in Roeselare and the forward-looking Research & Development department of VDL Bus Roeselare is still focusing exclusively on zero-emission buses.

     

    About VDL Bus Roeselare and VDL Bus & Coach:

    The former Jonckheere was renamed VDL Bus Roeselare a few years ago. Jonckheere was founded in 1881 as a family business, first as a builder of carriages, and it gradually developed into a reputed manufacturer of both city buses and coaches. In 1998 the company was taken over by VDL Groep. Within VDL, VDL Bus Roeselare is part of the VDL Bus & Coach division, which also runs manufacturing plants in Valkenswaard, Eindhoven, Venlo and Heerenveen.

    Next to environmental awareness, VDL Bus & Coach also priotizes quality, safety, sustainability, low fuel consumption, comfort and low maintenance costs. Thanks to a worldwide network of sales and service outlets, VDL Bus & Coach has become one of the biggest bus manufacturers in Europe.

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  • Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool will be supplying two luxury double-deckers for the Airbnb of bus transport, FlixBus. The FlixBus platform lets people book bus trips to European cities at low prices. An associated bus company such as Staf Cars from Lommel drives the actual trips. Belgian bus operator Staf Cars ensures the daily operations

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    Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool will be supplying two luxury double-deckers for the Airbnb of bus transport, FlixBus. The FlixBus platform lets people book bus trips to European cities at low prices. An associated bus company such as Staf Cars from Lommel drives the actual trips.

    Belgian bus operator Staf Cars ensures the daily operations of the bus ride FlixBus sells. Their bright-green buses depart from Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven, among others. After 1.5 years, FlixBus has already transported one million Belgian customers to cities across Europe.

    Trendy buses with Wi-Fi for young people
    Across Europe, the young German company expanded to 900 destinations in 20 countries. In 2016, 30 million travellers have boarded the fluorescent green buses.
    “We always have Wi-Fi on board, the chairs are comfortable, electronic devices can be charged, cancelling and changing bookings is free of charge, etc.”, explains Adrien Ravet of FlixBus to Gazet van Antwerpen. “We’ve noticed that this is making bus travel popular again with young people, as 75% of our travellers are younger than 35.”

    Van Hool makes customised double-deckers
    These luxury double-deckers are the speciality of Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool. The two buses for Staf Cars were built in our country, in Koningshooikt. “It’s about customising buses according our clients’ wishes”, says Dirk Snauwaert, Van Hool spokesman. “It’s a product with a lot of added value and requires a lot of manual labour. We make them here for many clients in Europe and the United States.”
    Van Hool may manufacture many more buses for Staf Cars and FlixBus in the future, as the network will be expanded considerably in 2017. In 2016 and 2017 Staf Cars will invest €4.3 million in coaches.

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  • With offices in Ypres and Tessenderlo, Belgian company Melexis, which mainly develops chips for the car industry, is growing rapidly. This past quarter, the company’s turnover increased by 13%, while operating profit jumped to 9%. Our cars are increasingly becoming computers on wheels, full of chips and high-tech equipment. The Belgian Melexis, which operates many

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    With offices in Ypres and Tessenderlo, Belgian company Melexis, which mainly develops chips for the car industry, is growing rapidly. This past quarter, the company’s turnover increased by 13%, while operating profit jumped to 9%.

    Our cars are increasingly becoming computers on wheels, full of chips and high-tech equipment. The Belgian Melexis, which operates many functions with its chips, is benefiting from this development. Their chips enable our cars to operate the auto-stop function, guide pumps, switch on air conditioning and LED lights, measure heat, etc., among others.

    Some 89% of turnover is automotive

    The sale to automotive customers represents 89% of their total turnover.

    Sales for the third quarter of 2016 were €114.5 million, an increase of 13% compared to the same quarter of the previous year and an increase of 2% compared to the previous quarter. The operating result was €29.7 million, an increase of 9% compared to the same quarter of last year and an increase of 7% compared to the previous quarter.

    Outperforming market growth

    “In the third quarter of 2016, Melexis continued its growth path with a year over year double-digit sales increase, outperforming market growth”, says Françoise Chombar, CEO of Melexis. “We’re happy to see continued growth in a number of Melexis core ASSP product lines such as position sensors, fan drivers and LIN (Local Interconnect Network). Geographically, EMEA was the main growth driver compared to the previous quarter.”

    Based on the current order book, Melexis expects full-year sales growth around the level of 13-14%, a gross profit margin around 45% and an operating margin around 25%.

    Demand for greener and safer cars

    Investors regard the company as an interesting investment with high dividends. “The novelties of Melexis meet the worldwide demand for greener and safer cars, which are also a pleasure to drive”, Anne-Catherine Delaye, manager of Richelieu Equities Belgium, told Trends. According to Marco Miserez, manager at Candriam Investors Group, the Melexis market is growing every year by 6 to 8%. “As well, the group is performing better than the market thanks to its good strategy and the quality and reputation of its products.”

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  • The tools manufactured by Festool for the automotive market will now be distributed by 3M. This partnership signed in Germany has also been extended to the Belgian Automotive Collision Repair market. In the Festool range, polishing machines, dust extractors and sanders are the main tools used in the automotive after market. These are sold to

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    The tools manufactured by Festool for the automotive market will now be distributed by 3M. This partnership signed in Germany has also been extended to the Belgian Automotive Collision Repair market.

    In the Festool range, polishing machines, dust extractors and sanders are the main tools used in the automotive after market. These are sold to bodywork garages, repair shops and suppliers to the automotive collision repair market.

    Strategic agreement also covers Belgium

    Back in February 2016, Festool, which manufatures electric and pneumatic power tools, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with 3M. From January 2017, both companies will launch in Belgium – and the rest of Europe – the Total Automotive Sanding System for the automotive collision repair industry.

    From then on, customers in the automotive collision repair channel will have access to a unique and comprehensive surface preparation, finishing and dust extraction system from a single supplier.

    “3M and Festool engineered the Total Automotive Sanding System to support the ongoing need for cleaner, safer, more efficient and profitable automotive collision repair workshops,” 3M commented. “With the combined world-class portfolios of 3M abrasives and Festool premium tools and services, 3M can provide a total solution to make body shops more profitable.”

    2 companies steeped in automotive history

    3M’s Automotive Aftermarket Division (AAD) is part of the 3M Industrial Business Group (IBG). It is the market leader for automotive maintenance and collision repair, and offers a full range of products for the manufacture, repair and maintenance of vehicles. With more than 70 subsidiaries worldwide, the Division has been active in the automotive collision repair industry for more than 90 years.

    Festool develops electric and pneumatic tools for professionals as well as users with tough demands. Automotive is an important market for the company’s Belgian branch in Brussels. Since the founding of the family business in 1925, its commitment to quality and innovation has earned it over 350 patents and more than 90 awards.

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  • Staden (B) • Independent manufacturer of trucks, trailers and rubbish trucks, and subcontractor MOL CY NV has landed contracts with ENAFOR and OIL INDIA for the construction of 48 mega Oilfield trucks and 82 Oilfield trailers that will be deployed for the transport of drilling rigs in oilfields in the Sahara and in Assam (India)

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    Staden (B) • Independent manufacturer of trucks, trailers and rubbish trucks, and subcontractor MOL CY NV has landed contracts with ENAFOR and OIL INDIA for the construction of 48 mega Oilfield trucks and 82 Oilfield trailers that will be deployed for the transport of drilling rigs in oilfields in the Sahara and in Assam (India) respectively. The first vehicles will be delivered from the first quarter 2017. The whole production will run for a period of 30 months. The contracts are worth over 25 million euros.

    All vehicles will be built at the company’s site in Staden.

    These orders are supplementing an already well-filled  order book.  MOL CY is building 4,000 mof additional assembly halls and actively seeking to increase its workforce, hiring mainly welders and fitters, to meet the growing demand.

    MOL CY (www.molcy.com) is an independent Belgian manufacturer of trucks, trailers, rubbish trucks and offers subcontracting services. Founded in 1944, the company is located in Staden (Belgium) and is part of the MOL Group.

    Production takes place in Staden as well as on the Kachtem site of ITK (www.itk-nv.be),  another subsidiary of the MOL Group, totalling about 400 employees.

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  • Have you ever wondered how your car got that beautiful colour? Chances are the Belgian Alro Group coated or painted the metal and plastic products on your car. The contrasting colours in parts of the front and rear bumpers of the AUDI A3. The sumptuous window styles of the BMW 7 Series. The coating of

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    Have you ever wondered how your car got that beautiful colour? Chances are the Belgian Alro Group coated or painted the metal and plastic products on your car.

    The contrasting colours in parts of the front and rear bumpers of the AUDI A3. The sumptuous window styles of the BMW 7 Series. The coating of metal parts for more than 2 million car seats each year for BMW and Mercedes. These are three contracts recently won by the Dilsen-Stokkem based Alro Group.

    More than 100,000 products a day

    ALRO was founded in 1976 by Mr Luc Thijs, and still has its headquarters in Dilsen-Stokkem. A specialist in metal and plastic products coating, the company operates more than 20 coating installations, processing over 100,000 products a day. The next day already, the components have to be sent to the clients all over Europe.

    Millions of people drive a vehicle whose components are coloured by the Belgian specialist. In cars, these include, for example, chassis components, body panels, door and window frames, bumpers, mirrors, door handles, door panels, parking sensors, spoilers, wiper arms, dashboard components, mouldings, door handles, door panels, airbag covers, etc.

    After the coating process, Alro sometimes also supplies a fully assembled product, such as a door handle, for instance.

    Production expansion in Slovakia

    At the request of its German customers, Alro launched a plant in Slovakia. “If you need manpower and if you have German customers, it’s the place to be,” Alro Group CTO, Carl Bruynseels, explained in an article published in L’Echo newspaper.

    “We wanted to supply from Belgium but they said, no, it had to come from Slovakia,” added Plant Manager Koenraad Geurts. “The decisive factor for major car manufacturers is not always the price, but reliability and quality,” commented Carl Bruynseels.

    Strong presence at trade fair

    “People are often surprised when they see the production line,” said Koenraad Geurts who is Plant Manager at Alro’s site in Slovakia. “We take care of the entire surface treatment portfolio (painting, etc.). None of our competitors can do it and we still have capacity.”

    Visitors to the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) will be able to admire their unique and comprehensive offering without having to travel further on to Slovakia.

    Between 18 and 20 October 2016, you will find the Alro Group at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, on the stand shared with seven other Belgian automotive specialists.

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  • There is a lot happening in Belgium’s automotive industry. Small and large companies alike are putting tremendous effort into building the future. Agoria will showcase eight innovators on the Belgian stand at the biennial International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany.    The International Suppliers Fair (IZB) will take place in Wolfsburg from 18 to 20 October

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    There is a lot happening in Belgium’s automotive industry. Small and large companies alike are putting tremendous effort into building the future. Agoria will showcase eight innovators on the Belgian stand at the biennial International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg, Germany.   

    The International Suppliers Fair (IZB) will take place in Wolfsburg from 18 to 20 October 2016. The IZB is one of Europe’s leading fairs for the automotive supplier insdustry. This will be the perfect moment to show the world that Belgium drives the future of automotive.

    8 Belgian innovators
    “Belgium, we drive the future of automotive” immediately became the slogan of the joint stand shared by 8 Agoria members, in Hall 2, Booth 2105.

    Belgium’s tricolour is proudly represented by eight companies:
    1. Alro Group,
    2. AMS Belgium,
    3. Averna,
    4. Kanigen Works,
    5. LASE,
    6. Mazaro,
    7. Ninix Technologies,
    8. Procoplast.

    Besides the group stand, Agoria is also planning a “Belgian automotive special event” at the Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts) on Wednesday, 19 October.

    3 world premieres from Belgium
    We will be revealing three world premieres at this year’s IZB, which is typical of the innovative Belgian spirit.
    AMS will be introducing rotational moulding for plastic parts using industrial robots complemented by electrical heating of the mould: Robomould®.
    Mazaro will be presenting an innovative transmission system which reduces fuel consumption and emissions by 16 to 26 percent.
    Ninix Technologies has developed a new packaging technology for automotive sensor modules which combines the strength of potting technology with the advantages of transfer moulding technology, while minimizing limitations.

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  • Belgium’s Punch Powertrain has once again been crowned a ‘Trends Gazelle’ of the province of Limburg. Over a 10-year period the Sint-Truiden-based company’s workforce is set to complete a rise from 152 to 1,200 employees. The Belgian specialist in the development and manufacture of automatic transmissions is no stranger to awards. For example, in 2015

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    Belgium’s Punch Powertrain has once again been crowned a ‘Trends Gazelle’ of the province of Limburg. Over a 10-year period the Sint-Truiden-based company’s workforce is set to complete a rise from 152 to 1,200 employees.

    The Belgian specialist in the development and manufacture of automatic transmissions is no stranger to awards. For example, in 2015 Punch Powertrain was named Factory of the Future, as the fastest-growing Trends Gazelle in the province of Limburg, and was distinguished as a Trends Business Tour company for its innovative and sustainable working methods. The company has also won a number of awards for its entrepreneurship.

    The most prestigious recognition

    A spokesman said: “This is probably the most prestigious recognition of our company and employees, and it is the result of years of effort and persistence with the company’s strategy.”

    Trends Gazelles are companies ranked for growth in their sales, workforce and cash flow over a 5-year period. For instance, over that period Punch Powertrain grew from 152.3 to 325.5 employees, an increase of 173.

    But its workforce is in for a further dramatic increase. “Our workforce is set to rise from its present level of 670 employees to over 1,200 by 2020″, Punch Powertrain CEO Cor Van Otterloo told Trends.

    More than 250,000 transmissions

    In 2014, the company sold more than 135,000 transmissions. “This year, Punch Powertrain plans to manufacture more than 250,000, nearly doubling its output. And sales should follow suit”.

    The company owes this success to its speciality: automatic transmissions for smaller cars and its focus on the burgeoning Asian market, especially China, where one positive factor is that growth in the small car segment is outstripping the expansion of the overall Chinese automotive market.

    Investing €400 million in growth

    Over the next five years, Punch Powertrain will invest €400 million in further growth. The company is also probing new markets in India and North and South America.

    Its customers include China’s BYD, Malaysia’s Proton and Geely, the Chinese owner of Volvo.

     

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  • Ten years after the start of Malmar Latvia, the Belgian company from Ghent is opening a new production facility in Bulgaria. “We are copying the strategy successfully employed for our Latvia plant”, says Koen Desimpelaere, Sales & Business Development manager at Malmar. Malmar processes steel sheet into finished products which OEMs assemble into their final

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    Ten years after the start of Malmar Latvia, the Belgian company from Ghent is opening a new production facility in Bulgaria. “We are copying the strategy successfully employed for our Latvia plant”, says Koen Desimpelaere, Sales & Business Development manager at Malmar.

    Malmar processes steel sheet into finished products which OEMs assemble into their final products. In addition to conventional steel processing, such as laser cutting, CNC folding, robot welding and riveting, the company has a state-of-the-art paintshop in Latvia that meets the automotive sector’s most stringent requirements. Malmar is also increasingly active in the sub-assembly of lighting groups and smaller parts composed of sheet metal combined with rubber sealing, insulation, etc.

    Just-in-time specialist from Ghent

    The company was founded in 1947 and has been owned by current CEO Dorsan De Buysscher since 2005. It is still headquartered in Belgium.

    From Ghent, Malmar directs the soon-to-be two foreign sites, makes investment decisions and handles administration and logistics. The company currently has some 15 employees in Belgium and 152 in Latvia.

    “After they are produced in Latvia, all parts are sent directly to our logistics centre in Ghent”, says Koen Desimpelaere. “From there, they are sent to our customers on a just-in-time basis and in the right quantities. Our business model is based on a push-pull approach. Latvia produces larger production batches, and ‘pushes’ them to Belgium. We can perfectly meet customer demand (‘pull’) via our warehouse in Belgium. This approach eliminates a headache for our customers since we hold buffer inventory for them.”

    Malmars many customers include companies such as Volvo Trucks, Volvo Buses, Renault Trucks, Caterpillar, Cargotec (Hiab & Kalmar), Atlas Copco and Dynapac.

    10 years of success in Latvia

    Rapid growth and high customer demand prompted Malmar to expand its production facilities to a new strategic location: Latvia, and more specifically the city of Ventspils.

    Production started in July 2006, with just six employees. Over the years, Malmar Latvia has evolved into a state-of-the-art production facility and now has over 150 employees and a high-tech paintshop.

    The company recently invested in two new machines: a milling machine and a welding robot. They help boost the efficiency of existing production equipment and make it possible to produce more sophisticated parts.

    95% of all Malmar products is produced and finished in Latvia. Only a bit of post-production assembly is done in Ghent.

    New production plant in Bulgaria

    This foreign success is now set to be replicated in Bulgaria.

    The team realised that ongoing growth – driven by new customers and more parts in its portfolio – required a new production facility for Malmar.

    “We are proud to announce that a new production plant will open its doors in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in Q3 2016”, the company reports. “This new facility, located in southern Europe in a low-cost environment, will focus exclusively on production, leveraging the same ‘push’ principle. This means that, based on yearly quantities, it will work with maximum batch sizes and minimum setups. In turn, Malmar Belgium will maintain a reserve inventory to keep up with requested just-in-time deliveries for its customers. The new production facility will allow us to continue growing sustainably in the years ahead.”

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  • Geel-based Belgian company Borit is banking strongly on the fuel which it believes will be powering the car of the future: hydrogen. It is already showing major sales growth as a result. “This promises to be a billion-euro business.” Borit CEO Luc Wanten and his R&D and production team manufacture hydroformed thin metal plates used

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    Geel-based Belgian company Borit is banking strongly on the fuel which it believes will be powering the car of the future: hydrogen. It is already showing major sales growth as a result. “This promises to be a billion-euro business.”

    Borit CEO Luc Wanten and his R&D and production team manufacture hydroformed thin metal plates used in fuel cells. These cells are crucial to a hydrogen-powered car.

    The so-called flow plates are a critical component to generate energy in vehicles powered by hydrogen for instance. “Our big production specialty consists in welding together two ultra-thin plates with a thickness of 100 microns, which is one-tenth of a millimetre,” Luc Wanten tells BeAutomotive. “The work is extremely precise and involves a lot of welds because the flow plates must be gas-tight. But we do it well.”

    50% of sales from automotive

    More and more car manufacturers are turning to hydrogen and Borit.

    “We’ve experienced huge growth in our automotive sales as more and more OEMs focus on hydrogen,” says Luc Wanten. “For instance, three German makes are doing just that. Out of our total sales of over 5 million euro, more than half are now generated in automotive. You may say that it is now a niche market, yet it will certainly grow into a billion-euro market once it comes to full maturity.”

    At the moment, 95% of Borit’s turnover comes from exporting its products, with half of those sales realised in North America.

    “We manage to win and keep great customers. We are expecting the first hydrogen-powered cars to be launched on the European market in 2018-2019.”

    Belgian R&D all the way to Japan

    With a workforce of about 35 people in R&D and production, Borit is currently based in Geel. It was founded in 2010 as a promising spin-off of OnderzoeksCentrum voor de Aanwending van Staal OCAS and Borit Leichtbau-Technik. For a while, production was based on the Open Manufacturing Campus (OMC) in Turnhout, where Philips is developing the most productive square kilometre in Belgium.

    The partnership with Philips and OCAS provided expertise and orders from all over the world.

    In Japan especially, there is growing interest in hydrogen. In the country which has still not recovered from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Toyota is planning to sell 20,000 hydrogen-powered cars by 2020.

    Borit ranked among top 10 Flanders Cleantech companies

    In the spring of 2014, Borit was selected out of 130 Flemish Cleantech Companies to be included in the “Flanders Cleantech 10” report. The degree of innovation or technology offered by the company in terms of disruptiveness, and the degree in which the products and services offered find their way into the market successfully were among the key criteria for the selection.

    “At Borit we are constantly developing new applications for our unique continuous hydroforming system,” says CEO Luc Wanten. “This Hydrogate propriety process can add value and reduce costs to the supply chain. In tandem with our in-house laser cutting and welding capabilities, we truly offer a professional production and service with high technology and broad engineering expertise.”

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  • The plastic used in cars is not just any old plastic: since the beginning of this year the Belgian Simonis Group has been manufacturing cup holders for the Mini. This specialised Belgian company managed to make the technically difficult part with the required qualitative look. Plastic is increasingly being used in cars, but people want

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    The plastic used in cars is not just any old plastic: since the beginning of this year the Belgian Simonis Group has been manufacturing cup holders for the Mini. This specialised Belgian company managed to make the technically difficult part with the required qualitative look.

    Plastic is increasingly being used in cars, but people want to see and feel less of it. Thanks to this paradox, plastics specialists such as the Liège-based Simonis Group are on the rise. “Plastic can range from €0.75 per kg to €400 per kg. This is how diverse the material is. We work in the price range of €1.75 to €105 per kg”, says Ghislain Gilliot, Managing Director of Simonis Group, who has an automotive background at Valeo, Michelin and Faurecia.

    1,300 kits a day for Mini

    “Out of the blue we received an e-mail from the supplier of Mini, the German ProSeat”, explains Gilliot. “They had a problem and were urgently looking for a specialised company that could produce high quality cup holders.” Simonis Group, which is known for its high quality plastic parts for eye surgery, space travel and aviation, suddenly received an automotive order that made up 50% of its turnover. In 17 weeks they managed to start up the project, including subcontracting, in order to manage the large volume of 1,300 kits a day. The project will run to 2023 or 2024, with options for new projects.

    33 people for a high tech product

    Each kit processed in the armrests of the Mini contains 11 parts of which some are moveable, and have a mat finish. “There is major technicity involved, although Mini drivers don’t realise this.” says Gilliot. Some 25 people work in Ans near Liège, while eight people work in the factory in China. “What’s unique is that as an SME we have our own branch in China, 100% owned by us. It’s not a joint venture and we don’t have partners. Since we have 100% control, we can guarantee compliance with intellectual property and quality of production to our clients. Our management and I take turns travelling to the factory.” Some 80% of production of this factory is intended for Asia and 20% of production is for Europe. Simonis also supplies small ventilators that control air circulation in the Airbus 350, among others.

    Simonis Group grows to €10 million

    Remarkably, only 20% of the turnover of the Simonis Group comes from Belgian clients. Currently, automotive comprises 40% of the Simonis Group’s turnover. After the start-up for Mini, it should become 30%, which is a lot more than the previous 10 to 15% orders by Audi for its Q3, Volvo, Mercedes, Ford, Renault, Citroën, and Land Rover.  In 2015 Simonis Group had a turnover of €3.5 million, and in 2016 it will be €4.2 to €4.5 million. “Now that the market knows that we helped out Mini with this part, we are getting requests from other automotive businesses. We are also interested in expanding this business.” In three to four years we will exceed the critical threshold of €10 million in turnover. “We will then have the machinery, people and factories to deal with larger projects ourselves”, explains Gilliot, who is increasingly on the lookout for a location for a third factory.

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  • There has been a lot of movement in the Belgian Volvo plant in Ghent. Production of the V60 will be moving from Sweden to Belgium in early 2017. In 2018, production of the new XC40 compact SUV will start up there. Eric Van Landeghem, managing director of Volvo Cars Ghent previously told BeAutomotive that Sweden

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    There has been a lot of movement in the Belgian Volvo plant in Ghent. Production of the V60 will be moving from Sweden to Belgium in early 2017. In 2018, production of the new XC40 compact SUV will start up there.

    Eric Van Landeghem, managing director of Volvo Cars Ghent previously told BeAutomotive that Sweden had asked the Ghent plant to assemble as many Volvo cars as possible”.
    Ghent can handle more cars

    Totally in this line, he also raised his hand when management in Sweden was looking for a solution for the V60. This car could no longer be built in the home country since the large XC90 SUV, the S90 business sedan and V90 large break will reach full production speed this year.

    Ghent can easily manage the additional car production because it is built on the same chassis as the S60 that is already built there. The V40, V40 Cross Country, XC60 are also assembled in Ghent. This will also make it possible to add the V60 Cross Country and the D6 plug-in hybrid to the assembly line.
    Employees trained in hybrid technology

    The V60 is introducing hybrid technology to the Ghent production line. “We are also pleased that the move will give Ghent workers their first chance to produce a plug-in hybrid,” says Volvo Car Ghent spokesman Mark De Mey to Europe Autonews. “It’s a good opportunity for us to gain experience in the production of this type of vehicle. We will also be handling the storage of the batteries.”

     

    Volvo has announced plans to offer the fuel-saving powertrain option in all of its future model lines as it looks to get 10 percent of its sales from plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars in the midterm. The strong push into plug-in hybrids will include the next-generation V40 family that will be produced in Ghent starting in late 2017 on the new compact modular architecture.

    XC40 production to start up in 2018
    The first CMA car in Ghent is expected to be a compact-sized crossover called the XC40. Production of that vehicle will kick off in 2018. The 5,300 employees in Ghent already knew for some time that they would be able to build the new 40 series.

     

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  • The ambition of Belgian automotive manufacturer Punch Powertrain is to grow and expand internationally. That’s why the deal with the Yinyi Group is good news for the company based in Sint-Truiden. “Our Belgian R&D team is set to further expand from around 300 engineers to around 700 in the coming 5 years,” says CEO of

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    The ambition of Belgian automotive manufacturer Punch Powertrain is to grow and expand internationally. That’s why the deal with the Yinyi Group is good news for the company based in Sint-Truiden. “Our Belgian R&D team is set to further expand from around 300 engineers to around 700 in the coming 5 years,” says CEO of Punch Powertrain, Cor van Otterloo.

    Shareholders LRM, Gimv, Capricorn and New Horizon agreed to sell 100% of the shares in Punch Powertrain to the Yinyi Group for a consideration of 1 billion euro, the Belgian press reported.
    Belgian R&D and operation teams will expand

    CEO of Punch Powertrain, Cor van Otterloo , about this transaction: “In Yinyi Group we found the right partner to support us in the ambition to further grow and expand internationally.”

    “To achieve this ambition, our Belgian R&D team is set to further expand from around 300 engineers to around 700 in the coming five years. The operations team will also expand accordingly. This will allow the company to continue to develop new cutting-edge technologies. On top of that, plant capacity will jump from 300,000 to over a million units per year, in both Belgium and China.”

    Yinyi Group wants to be a tier-one automotive system supplier

    In 2014 the Yinyi Group had a turnover of 7.6 billion euro. The group is active in a wide range of industries such as mining, real estate, semi-conductors, aluminium rims for cars and airbag inflators.

    Yinyi Group Chairman Xiong explains: “The strong technology expertise and growth track record of Punch Powertrain combined with its Asian exposure make Punch Powertrain fit perfectly with Yinyi’s strategy to diversify its activities and become a tier-one automotive system supplier.”

    Punch Powertrain to keep its name

    Punch Powertrain will keep its name. There will be no changes to the company’s organisation, employees, management team or locations.

    The press release says that the Yinyi Group fully supports Punch Powertrain’s business plan for the coming years. Both companies share the intention to become a global player.

     

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  • Sint-Truiden based gear manufacturer VCST was taken over by the BMT industrial group. BMT plans to merge the company with its subsidiary IG Watteeuw (IGW) located in Bruges and which also makes gears. Together, VCST and IGW will be a world leader in the field of gears. VCST is a global player in the supply

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    Sint-Truiden based gear manufacturer VCST was taken over by the BMT industrial group. BMT plans to merge the company with its subsidiary IG Watteeuw (IGW) located in Bruges and which also makes gears. Together, VCST and IGW will be a world leader in the field of gears.

    VCST is a global player in the supply of precision gears and other critical components for the engines, transmissions and brake systems of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The company has a diversified portfolio of blue-chip customers, including Audi, Caterpillar, Continental, Cummins, DAF, General Motors, Punch Powertrain, Volkswagen, and many more.

    Worldwide, the company has five plants (Belgium, China, Germany, Mexico and Romania), in which it invested more than 50 million euro over the past three years. VCST also has an extensive engineering capacity in-house (120 engineers), which gives the company a strong edge when it comes to product development, innovation and carrying out projects. With its 1,250 (full-time) employees, the company generated a turnover of 169 million euro in 2015, which is almost double that of 2009.

    The acquisition by the BMT international industrial group heralds an important new phase for VCST. The company will be merged into one division with BMT subsidiary IG Watteeuw (IGW) which operates in the more industrial applications of the gear market (transport, energy and industry).

    In addition to the complementary nature of their activities, the combination will also be less dependent on the evolution of one particular customer segment. Moreover, by joining forces, both companies are strengthening their position not only in Europe (Belgium, Germany, Romania, Czech Republic), but also worldwide (China, India, Mexico, United States). Together, VCST and IGW represent a turnover of nearly 300 million euro with a total workforce of 2,750 employees.

    The acquisition is subject to the usual conditions, including approval by the competition authorities.

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  • The German Federal President Joachim Gauck visited the Audi plant in Brussels on the second day of his three day state visit to Belgium. At the invitation of the King and Queen of Belgium, President Gauck and Ms Daniela Schadt visited the Audi site south of the Belgian capital to engage in an exchange of

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    The German Federal President Joachim Gauck visited the Audi plant in Brussels on the second day of his three day state visit to Belgium. At the invitation of the King and Queen of Belgium, President Gauck and Ms Daniela Schadt visited the Audi site south of the Belgian capital to engage in an exchange of ideas. The talks focused on the first fully electric SUV in the history of Audi, which will roll off the assembly line at the Brussels site starting in 2018, as well as the interaction with the pluralistic workforce at Audi Brussels.

    At the very beginning of the visit, the distinguished guests signed the visitor’s book at AUDI AG and took a close look at the Audi e-tron quattro concept car. The battery electric technology study, which Audi presented at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in September 2015, is fully suitable for everyday driving thanks to a range of more than 500 kilometers. The Audi e-tron quattro concept offers a real glimpse of the first volume production electric car of the brand with the four rings, which will go into production at the Audi Brussels site in 2018.

    Around 2,500 employees from a total of 27 different nations currently work at Audi Brussels. The Brussels plant was awarded certification by the prestigious “Top Employers Institute” at the beginning of the year for its diverse offerings in the area of Human Resources. Audi is the trailblazer of the “dual training” system in Belgium. Since 2012, Audi Brussels has worked in close cooperation with two partner schools from both the French speaking and Flemish parts of the country in order to help young people get off to a good start in their careers.

    Audi produces the Audi A1 family exclusively in Brussels

    Visit Audi MediaCenter for more information

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  • The Roeselare-based Belgian bus builder VDL has just bagged one of the largest ever contracts for electric buses. The company will build 40 electric buses for the Dutch city of Eindhoven. In all, Eindhoven is ordering around 100 buses, 40 of which are the Citea SLFA Electric model. VDL will also be manufacturing the 65

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    The Roeselare-based Belgian bus builder VDL has just bagged one of the largest ever contracts for electric buses. The company will build 40 electric buses for the Dutch city of Eindhoven.

    In all, Eindhoven is ordering around 100 buses, 40 of which are the Citea SLFA Electric model. VDL will also be manufacturing the 65 conventional diesel buses powered by a Euro 6 engine to help the Dutch city modernise its fleet of vehicles.
    Roeselare, the product owner of electric buses

    “Since our production of conventional buses is being undercut by cheaper suppliers in Eastern Europe, this order is very important to us”, Peter Wouters, the Managing Director of VDL Bus Roeselare told BeAutomotive. “It confirms our belief in a hybrid and electric future and will create jobs in Flanders.”

    “Within the VDL group, we are product owners of most types of urban bus and process each order as it comes in. By landing the order for 120 hybrid buses that we are currently making for De Lijn, we have become the product owner of the electric bus.”

    Order creates 80 new jobs

    The contract for the 40 buses is worth €25 million. It provides work for 80 employees in addition to the 500 people already working for VDL Bus & Coach. “We definitely hope to see these temporary staff start work by the beginning of 2017″, Wouters said. “After all, we still have quite a number of orders for public transport, touring coaches and electric buses in the pipeline.”

    Electric buses are also of interest from the employment viewpoint, because they take twice as long to make as conventional buses. It takes 2 men almost a year to build an electric bus.

    Public transport is switching to electric

    More and more cities are opting for electric when they procure new vehicles for their public transport network. According to VDL CEO Peter Wouters this is only logical. “Public transport is perfectly suited to electrification. The vehicles cover circular routes and can regularly be topped up at charging stations. Accordingly, we’re fitting the buses for Eindhoven with a fast-charge system, enabling the batteries to be fully charged in just a few minutes.”

    For this reason, this order is in line with the plan of the province of South Brabant to achieve zero-emission public transport by 2025. Eindhoven’s public transport fleet will supposedly already become fully electric by 2020.

    The buses will be deployed on the busiest lines in and around Eindhoven in a kind of tram system, with vehicles turning up in quick succession, so that passengers will never have long to wait before the next bus comes along.

    Here you can read the full press release about VDL’s mega-order.

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  • Premium Sound Solutions, a global player in the field of high-tech audio systems for the automotive industry, among others, announced the acquisition of Blaupunkt Malaysia’s OEM activities on 13 November. Blaupunkt Malaysia is a division of Germany-based Blaupunkt Technologies GmbH, which has gone into voluntary liquidation. The Malaysian division of Blaupunkt develops and manufactures OEM car

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    Premium Sound Solutions, a global player in the field of high-tech audio systems for the automotive industry, among others, announced the acquisition of Blaupunkt Malaysia’s OEM activities on 13 November.

    Blaupunkt Malaysia is a division of Germany-based Blaupunkt Technologies GmbH, which has gone into voluntary liquidation. The Malaysian division of Blaupunkt develops and manufactures OEM car radios, navigation systems, amplifiers and speakers for the global automotive industry.

    Premium Sound Solutions has taken over the technology, production plant and the majority of the staff employed in Malaysia to ensure that deliveries to Blaupunkt’s Asian and European OEM customers will be guaranteed. Blaupunkt’s current retail operations are not part of the transaction.

    “This acquisition immediately expands our customer and product portfolio and allows us to strengthen our capabilities. It also enables us to strategically develop our industrial footprint for the production of speakers and electronics. These are important factors if we want to achieve our ambitions and growth plans within the automotive industry,” says Achiel Verheyen, CEO of Premium Sound Solutions, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary.

    “I am very pleased that our Malaysian operation is now part of the Premium Sound Solutions group. The strengths of both companies open the door to a broader and more global customer portfolio, which is an advantage for future growth. The Penang site is not only a strategic asset to the current industrial footprint of PSS; it also employs a highly motivated and competent workforce,” says K.P. Goh, General Manager of PSS Malaysia.

    www.premiumsoundsolutions.com

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