Van Hool

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Van Hool
Private
Industry Automotive manufacture
Automotive engineering
Founded 1947
Headquarters Koningshooikt, Belgium
Key people
Bernard Van Hool (founder)
Filip Van Hool (CEO)
Products Bus
Coach
Semi-trailers
Subsidiaries Van Hool USA
Website vanhool.com
Van Hool Astromega TD927 coach for the Oxford Tube
Van Hool Alizée HE-II body on a Scania K113CRB coach for New Enterprise Coaches
A British spec double deck Van Hool coach.
A bi-articulated Van Hool AGG300
Front view of AGG300.
A Van Hool single articulated bus with North American specifications north of Toronto, Canada.

Van Hool NV (Dutch pronunciation: [vɑn ˈɦoːl]) is a Belgian family-owned coachbuilder and manufacturer of buses, coaches, trolleybuses, and trailers.

Most of the buses and coaches are built entirely by Van Hool, with engines and axles sourced from Caterpillar, Cummins, DAF and MAN and gearboxes from ZF or Voith. Some production involves building bus and coach bodies on separate bus chassis from manufacturers such as Volvo and Scania.

Worldwide, Van Hool employs 4,500 people and manufactures over 1,700 buses and coaches (bodyworks and complete vehicles combined) and 5,000 trailers each year. It sells an average of 600 coaches annually in the United States.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The company was founded in 1947 by Bernard van Hool in Koningshooikt, near Lier, Belgium. In the early years, the company introduced serial production and exported their products all over Europe. Since the mid-1980s, the company has also been active on the North American market.

On February 15, 1957, Van Hool signed a commercial agreement with Fiat; Van Hool would incorporate Fiat engines and other mechanical components (gearboxes, axles, steering) in its vehicles. It developed from a coachbuilder to a Belgian manufacturer of integral buses and coaches, known as Van Hool-Fiat. Alongside these activities, the company continued as a coachbuilder, enabling further expansion.

In August 1958, a year and a half after the agreement with Fiat was signed, the 100th Van Hool-Fiat was delivered, and by July 1961, the figure had exceeded 500. The co-operation agreement with Fiat was terminated in 1981.

In 1990, Van Hool purchased the coachbuilding business of LAG Manufacturing and continued producing their EOS models for about ten years.

Product range (Europe)[edit]

In Europe, Van Hool has a broad range of coaches, though all designs share similar looks and are based on the same platform, the T9. The same philosophy is used on the transit bus range, the A-series. In recent years, the company has been focusing on new propulsion technologies, introducing fuel-cell hybrid buses as well as diesel-electric hybrids.

Discontinued products[edit]

T8 series touring coach[edit]

The T8 platform was introduced in 1979. The body was based on the Alizee bodywork that had been launched the previous year. Over the course of several years, a range of touring coaches were developed based on this platform, each distinguished by a number and a name, following a clear naming convention. For example, in "TD824 Astromega":

  • T = Touringcar (touring coach)
  • D = Dubbeldek (double deck)
  • 8 = Part of the T8 series
  • 24 = theoretical maximum number of seat rows
  • Astromega = name of the double deck integrals

In 1991, an updated "T8 New Look" was introduced, called the T9 in its North American version. Production was ended in the late 1990s, following the introduction of the new (European) T9 platform.

A-series transit bus[edit]

In the 1980s, European countries started to move away from standard bus designs, leaving the design of transit buses to the manufacturers. Van Hool's response was the development of the A-series transit buses. The first member, the A500, was introduced in 1985. A complete family would follow, again following a clear naming convention. For example, in 'AG500':

  • A = Autobus (transit bus)
  • G = Geleed (articulated)
  • 500 = height of the floor, in millimeters

Production of the A-series continued into the early 21st century, when it was replaced by the newA-series.

Current products[edit]

T9 series touring coaches[edit]

The new T9 series in Europe was launched in 1995. It included a completely new body design and many other changes. The same philosophy as with the T8 was applied: one platform, many different versions. Also, the naming convention was retained. Over the years, many new variants have been developed. Different models (all available in at least 2 lengths, see 'products' below) include the Atlino and Atlon, with different floor heights, the Alicron, Acron and Astron, standard touring coaches with different heights and thus different luggage space, the Altano, which has an underfloor cockpit, the Astronef, which features a sloping theatre-style floor, and the double deck Astromega.

Additionally, the T9 body is also available on chassis by Scania, Volvo and VDL, though only in Sweden and the British Isles. These motorcoaches are referred to as Alizee (single deck) and Astrobel (double deck).

(The European T9 series should not be confused with the T9 series in the United States market, which corresponds with the European T8 New Look.)

TX series touring coaches[edit]

A Megabus Van Hool TDX27 Astromega at Buchanan Bus Station

At Busworld 2011 in Kortrijk, Belgium, Van Hool presented the successor to the T9 series. The new series is called TX.

newA series transit buses[edit]

In 2001, Van Hool introduced the newA series transit buses, replacing the A series. It featured a new body design and many other changes. A complete family was developed, with different length and configurations.

ExquiCity BRT solution[edit]

In April 2011 Van Hool launched the ExquiCity platform, aimed specifically at the BRT market. The bus has the styling and comfort of a tram, with the flexibility and cost of a bus. The ExquiCity was launched in two lengths, the single-articulated ExquiCity 18 and the double-articulated ExquiCity 24. Both are available as trolley buses, diesel-electric hybrids, fuel-cell hybrids or full-electric buses. First orders were placed by the Italian city of Parma (ExquiCity 18 trolley) and the French city of Metz (ExquiCity 24 diesel electric hybrid). A mock-up was presented at the UITP Congress in Dubai.

EX series touring coaches[edit]

A Van Hool EX16M produced in Macedonia. Shown at the IAA 2014

At the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung 2014 in Hanover, Germany, Van Hool presented the new EX series of touring coaches for the European market. It is produced in the Van Hool factory in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonia is considered to be a low-wage country where production costs are much lower than in Belgium.[1]

Product range (North America)[edit]

Due to American Federal safety requirements and other unique factors, only highway touring coaches were introduced in the United States initially, starting in 1987. Transit coaches by Van Hool were not introduced until 2002. Currently,[when?] Van Hool has four separate product lines: the TX series deluxe touring coaches, the CX series touring coaches, the TD925 and TDX double-decker coach, and the A-series transit buses. Van Hool's exclusive dealer in the United States is ABC Companies.

Discontinued products[edit]

T8 series touring coach[edit]

The T815 was first introduced to the United States market in 1987. Later subsequent models are collectively known as the T8 series. The earliest use Cummins L10 diesels. Later versions use Cummins M11 diesels. It was available in 30,-40-and-45-foot (9.1, 12.2 and 13.7 m) length versions.

T9 series touring coach[edit]

T9 series are almost identical to the T8 series visually, and are largely identical mechanically as well, except for incremental updates. Later models in the T9 series have larger suspension airbags, as well as front disc brakes instead of drum brakes. Van Hool's VIN consider T8 and T9 to be the same family. It was available as 40-foot (12.2 m) T940 or extended 45-foot (13.7 m) T945 versions.

Current products[edit]

T21 series luxury touring coach[edit]

Introduced in 1995 and based on the European T9 platform, the T21 series features an updated design and more engine choices. Whereas the T8 and T9 series are almost exclusively powered by Cummins diesel engines, the T21 series is available with Cummins M11 plus, Detroit Diesel Series 60, or Caterpillar C13 ACERT engines. Later models of the T21 simplified the windshield into two panes only, replaced headlight assemblies with individual projector lamps, and consolidated the driver console. It is available as 40-foot (12.2 m) T2140 or extended 45-foot (13.7 m) T2145 versions.

C20 series touring coach[edit]

Introduced as a lower-cost coach for long-distance routes, the C20 series, styled similarly to the T21 series, was introduced in 2000 to the United States market. C20 is available with Cummins ISX12 or Detroit Diesel DD13 engines. Previous generations could also be equipped with Cummins M11 plus, Cummins ISM, Detroit Diesel series 60 and Caterpillar C13 engines. Both Allison B500 automatic and ZF AS Tronic automated gearboxes are available.[2] Available as extended 45-foot (14 m) C2045 version only. Current model is C2045E.

Greyhound operates a fleet of C2045s along with its MCI buses in Michigan.

A3 transit bus series[edit]

An AC Transit 30-foot (9.1 m) Van Hool A300K bus

Van Hool and ABC partnered with AC Transit (Alameda and Contra Costa counties, California) to demonstrate the A3 series as a future transit alternative in 2002. The AG300 is an articulated 60-foot (18.3 m) bus, while the A330 is a 40-foot (12.2 m) bus. The A330 and AG300 low floor transit coaches formally entered service in AC Transit's fleet in June 2003. AC Transit has over 290 Van Hool buses either in its fleet or on order as of August 2016.

Van Hool was building 16 hydrogen fuel cell buses for the United States as of August 2009. These buses are powered by fuel cells from UTC Power and lithium batteries from EnerDell. Twelve of the buses are being purchased by AC Transit and four by CT Transit of Hartford, Connecticut. This project is unusual in that the buses have been designed from the ground up as fuel cell buses and are designed, built, and integrated by a single manufacturer.

In 2008, AC Transit took delivery of a fleet of new model A300L 40-foot (12.2 m) buses. These buses are unique in the United States market, as they have their engines mounted between the front and rear axles in an attempt to improve the ride quality. This bus is a longer version of the previously-introduced 30-foot (9.1 m) A300K (K stands for kort, "short" in Dutch and L for lang, "long"). A survey of AC Transit riders found that they approved of the design and quality of the new buses.

Utah Transit Authority (based in Salt Lake City) has purchased ten A300L 40-foot (12.2 m) buses for its MAX Bus Rapid Transit system. These buses differ from AC Transit's A300Ls as they have three doors and are equipped for cold weather and high altitude operations. They have also recently[when?] placed an order for four more, due to the popularity of the MAX BRT service.

York Region Transit (north of Toronto, Ontario) uses the A330 and AG300 buses on its Viva routes, though the A330 buses are being transferred to the conventional YRT service as more Nova LFX buses arrive for the Viva services. The Reseau de transport de Longueuil (south of Montreal, Quebec) also uses the AG300 buses, and was the first to use Van Hool transit buses in North America (AG700) in 1989.

Washington, D.C.'s Circulator uses the A330 buses. These 29 buses were purchased from AC Transit in 2005. In addition to the A330 models, the Circulator now[when?] uses the new A300K buses, which first went into service in April 2009. The Circulator recently[when?] took delivery of 14 A300K, 31-foot (9.4 m) buses to build out its route structure. The A300K was chosen because of its ability to do the work of 40-foot (12.2 m) buses for nearly all operations with the smaller body and engine of a midi bus.

FirstTransit took delivery of 12 A300Ls and 4 AG300s in early 2009, for use on the University of Minnesota Campus Connector.

Baltimore, Maryland's Charm City Circulator have recently[when?] ordered and since put 5 A300Ls into service early 2011. The A300L was a supplement order to their already existing, but rehabilitating Designline buses.

TD925 Astromega double-deck touring motorcoach[edit]

The TD925 Astromega is a closed-top double-decker motor coach meeting United States specifications. It is a variant of the TD925 Astromega coach available in Europe.

Products[edit]

A Van Hool TD925 bus in New York City
A Van Hool C2045-L in New York City
Van Hool T916 Astronef

Transit buses[edit]

Europe[edit]

  • A308 midibus, full low floor, with side-mounted engine. Also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • A309 midibus, low entry (low floor up to the second door). Also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • A320 standard bus (out of production)
  • A300 standard bus, full low floor, with side-mounted engine. Also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • A300 CNG standard bus
  • A360 standard bus, low entry. Also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • A330 standard bus, full low floor, engine placed horizontally in the back. Also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • A330 CNG standard bus
  • AG300 articulated bus, also available as diesel-electric hybrid
  • AGG300 bi-articulated bus
  • A330T trolleybus
  • AG300T articulated trolleybus
  • AG300 CNG articulated bus
  • ExquiCity 18 articulated BRT bus (diesel electric hybrid, trolley, fuel cell or electric)
  • ExquiCity 24 bi-articulated BRT bus (diesel electric hybrid, trolley, fuel cell or electric
  • A308E Electric bus

North America[edit]

  • newA300K 30-foot (9.1 m) bus, shortened A300L
  • newA300L 40-foot (12.2 m) full low floor bus, side-mounted midship engine
  • newA330 40-foot (12.2 m) full low floor bus, side-mounted rear engine
  • newAG300 60-foot (18.3 m) articulated full low floor bus, side-mounted midship engine

Touring coaches[edit]

Europe[edit]

  • T915 Atlon
  • T916 Atlon
  • TX11 Alicron
  • TX15 Alicron
  • TX16 Alicron
  • TX15 Acron
  • TX16 Acron
  • TX17 Acron
  • TX18 Acron
  • TX16 Astron
  • TX17 Astron
  • TX15 Astronef
  • TX16 Astronef
  • TX17 Astronef
  • TX17 Altano
  • TX18 Altano
  • TX19 Altano
A Van Hool EX15H available 2015
  • TDX20 Altano
  • TDX21 Altano
  • TDX25 Astromega
  • TDX27 Astromega
  • EX15H[3]
  • EX16M
  • EX17H

North America[edit]

  • TX40
  • TX45
  • CX45
  • TD925 Astromega USA

References[edit]

  1. ^ Van Hool presents EX in world premiere at IAA Press release dated July 24, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  2. ^ [1], ABC Bus Companies C204X data sheet
  3. ^ Van Hool building new type of standard coach for Europe and new markets in Macedonia starting in 2015 Press release dated May 12, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2014.

External links[edit]