Van Hool NV has confirmed that it will build a United States transit bus factory in Morristown, Tennessee. Once operational in the first quarter of 2020, Van Hool says the plant will employ 600 and manufacture around 400 buses and commuter coaches annually for the North American public transport market. The ground breaking ceremony for the new site will take place at the end of this summer.
The announcement was made in Morristown in the presence of Bill Haslam, the governor of Tennessee, and Bob Rolfe, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).
Filip Van Hool, CEO at Van Hool, says: “We have over 30 years of experience in the North American market where we have been successful with buses and coaches for private companies. We’ve delivered over 11,000 vehicles in North America since 1987. Based on this experience and through market research, we have learned that the public transport market, with a total annual potential of 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles, offers opportunities for Van Hool. Because of the Buy America Act, our family business decided to explore a new manufacturing facility in the US.”
The 1982 Buy America Act requires vehicles supplied to public authorities with federal funding to be assembled in the US, contain 70% of their parts from American suppliers and 100% American steel.
“The presence of highly-respected technical schools and well-trained employees, together with the support and cooperation of all the local stakeholders in Morristown, Hamblen County and Tennessee, convinced Van Hool’s executive board to make this largest investment outside of Belgium in Van Hool’s 71-year history,” says the CEO.
“This significant investment in a new market for Van Hool offers opportunities for employees in Koningshooikt [where Ven Hool has its Belgian headquarters]. We really want to offer a particularly competitive product on the public bus transport market in America. This new type of bus will be fully designed and developed by the engineers at the design office in Koningshooikt. Moreover, in the run-up to starting production in Morristown, in the first quarter of 2020, a comprehensive training programme is being developed for the new American employees who will come to Europe over the course of 2019. Our experienced employees will familiarise their new American colleagues with the high-quality norms and standards of Van Hool vehicles.”
“Van Hool is an exceptional company and I’m pleased this third-generation, family-owned business has decided to bring 600 well-paying, family-wage jobs to East Tennessee,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe says. “Tennessee’s skilled workforce, central location and higher education programmes such as the Tennessee Promise continue to attract world-class international companies like Van Hool to our state.”