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.