MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – Belgian motorcoach maker Van Hool officially announced its plans to build its first American bus manufacturing plant in Tennessee, employing at least 600 workers to start and possibly as many as 1,200 within five years.
Once the facility is operational in the first quarter of 2020, Van Hool will manufacture around 400 buses and commuter coaches annually for the North American public transit market.
The $47 million plant will be similar to the 450,000-square-foot Van Hool manufacturing facility in Macedonia.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new site will take place at the end of this summer.
“We have over 30 years of experience in the North American market, where we have been successful with buses and coaches for private companies,” said Van Hool CEO Filip Van Hool.
“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 transportation market, with a total annual potential of 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles, offers opportunities for Van Hool,” he said.
“Because of the ‘Buy America Act,’ our family business decided to explore a new manufacturing facility in the U.S.”
Under the 1982 Buy America Act, vehicles supplied to public authorities must be assembled in the U.S., contain 70 percent of their parts from American suppliers and use 100 percent American steel.
ABC Companies is the North American distributor of Van Hool motorcoaches.
Filip Van Hool said 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 the company’s executive board “to make the largest investment outside of Belgium in Van Hool’s 71-year history.”
“We really want to offer a particularly competitive product on the public bus transportation market in America.This new type of bus will be fully designed and developed by the engineers at the design office in Koningshooikt,” Belgium, Van Hool’s headquarters.