VDL Nedcar transition: to a broadly oriented partner in sustainable mobility
VDL Nedcar in Born is working hard on the transition from an independent car manufacturer to a broadly oriented partner in sustainable mobility. This transition should ensure the retention of as many jobs in Born as possible, even after the contract period with BMW. Although VDL Nedcar has not yet been able to ensure a flawless connection of new activities at the end of the BMW contract period, there is confidence in the future of VDL Nedcar.
The transition of VDL Nedcar is based on three pillars: VCM (Vehicle Contract Manufacturing), MIC (Mobility Innovation Centre) and VGA (VDL Growth Allocation).
Pillar 1: Vehicle Contract Manufacturing (VCM)
VDL Nedcar is in talks with various parties to manufacture cars for them in Born. In several cases, concrete interest has been shown. There is confidence that a partnership or contract for the manufacture of cars can probably be signed in the short term. This may be a complete vehicle, or the final assembly of a partially built car or body. The expected start of manufacture depends on the proposition. Joint action with these clients on the design of manufacturing could then start soon.
Pillar 2: Mobility Innovation Centre (MIC)
Various sustainable mobility solutions are housed in the Mobility Innovation Centre (MIC). In addition to assembly for e-mobility, the MIC develops activities together with partners in line with VDL Groep’s extensive mobility strategy: design, electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and systems.
VDL Groep has taken over Altran Automotive on 1 May 2023. The more than 90 employees will continue to work at the Automotive Campus in Helmond. The activities will be integrated into VDL Enabling Transport Solutions, which focuses on researching, developing, building prototypes and testing new possibilities and mobility concepts for partners and other VDL companies.
Altran’s activities include vehicle and vehicle component testing, software engineering, special vehicle prototyping and special vehicle concept design. In addition, the company has its own workshop with test facility and knowledge and skills in the field of engineering and projects, particularly aimed at the automotive industry. What is special is that Altran Automotive is the legal successor of NedCar’s development department.
With this acquisition, the engineering capabilities are further expanded, which means an important contribution can be made to the mobility strategy of VDL Groep. In addition, there are plans to use the knowledge and skills of the new employees in Helmond, as well as the test facility, for future mobility concepts that also tie in with the transition being made in Born, in order to further support employment at VDL Nedcar.
Battery assembly line
The demo line to assemble batteries is in use. The total built-up area of this line is 2,000 m2. The capacity is approximately 40,000 battery packs per year. VDL Nedcar is holding talks with car and coach builders to have their batteries assembled in Born. These (potential) customers have an interest in battery assembly taking place in the immediate vicinity of vehicle assembly. The battery assembly line must contribute to the development of a battery ecosystem in the Netherlands that can accelerate the transition to climate-neutral mobility. This is expected to create new jobs.
Coating of brake discs
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, has announced that emissions from brakes in Europe will fall under the EURO7 standard in 2025. Brakes are a major cause of particulate matter emissions. A number of solutions are available to reduce particulate matter emissions from brakes. An effective way is to hard-coat the brake discs with laser cladding. The Wecodur technology is an efficient and environmentally friendly way of doing this that is suitable for mass production and ensures a reduction of particulate matter emissions by up to 90%. In addition to reducing particulate matter emissions, the hard coating also reduces wear, extending the life of the brake disc. In addition, the process protects the brake disc against corrosion and is therefore also suitable for electric vehicles.
GOTEC Brake Disc Coating (GBDC) is an innovative coating company that offers the Wecodur technology as a coating service. VDL has entered into a partnership with GBDC to have brake discs coated with this leading technology at VDL Nedcar. It is estimated that all car makes should have switched to coated brake discs by 2025, so future market demand looks potentially high. GBDC’s technique and method, as well as the manufacturing process, is a proven innovation that is being made available to the mass market. This method of coating brake discs fits perfectly with the MIC’s strategy to bring innovations to the market.
Many metropolitan areas are actively countering the increase in motor vehicles by banning cars from inner cities and promoting alternative traffic concepts. The automotive industry is also addressing these challenges by developing new mobility solutions that link connectivity, electrification, autonomous driving and sharing services. Examples include autonomous shuttle systems based on a so-called rolling chassis, which modularly combines powertrain, brake, steering and battery. Depending on power requirements, the vehicle can be driven using wheel hub motors or an e-axis.
By using partnerships for overall vehicle integration and driving automation, complete passenger and freight vehicles can be realised from the rolling chassis of robot taxis to autonomous delivery vehicles. Complemented with intelligent infrastructure systems and connectivity options, comprehensive mobility solutions can be implemented.
VDL Nedcar is in discussions to start manufacturing this people movers solution in a partnership. Positive steps are being taken to jointly bring an innovative transport concept to the market. If it comes to a partnership, we expect to be able to announce it in the autumn.
The strategic partnership with ElectricBrands that has been announced is taking on shape. The German company wants to have the Evetta e-city car and the modular XBUS manufactured in Born. ElectricBrands has further expanded its engineering team and has sought collaboration with other VDL companies for the further development of its vehicles. VDL Kunststoffen in Nederweert is involved in the development and design of plastic parts for the inside and outside of the vehicles and VDL HMI in Helmond monitors the steel structures of the vehicles to be manufactured in Born.
Another activity previously announced by VDL Nedcar, and which is being expanded further, is preparing cars for delivery before they enter the market: pre-delivery inspections. This could include supporting after-sales activities of various car makes by means of inspections and repairs to cars before delivery, for example replacing the powertrain or the camera system, or training dealers on how to deal with electric cars. Because there is a great demand in the automotive sector for service partners for the implementation of these projects, there is a lot of confidence in the further expansion of this activity.
Pillar 3: VDL Growth Allocation (VGA)
Various sister companies of VDL Nedcar, other companies that are also part of VDL Groep, are faced with a lack of space, many vacancies and sometimes a lack of electricity. To facilitate their growth strategy, we are exploring whether these companies, which are also active in mobility in the first instance, can be facilitated on the site in Born.
VDL Bus Venlo
VDL Bus Venlo will start production on the VDL Nedcar site from 1 January 2024. Following this move, this operating company will be disconnected from VDL Bus & Coach, the Buses division of VDL Groep. With this privatisation and the move to larger premises (a tripling to 21,000 m2), the growth plans can take shape. New jobs are being created to carry out these plans.
VDL Bus Venlo is engaged in, among other things, converting various basic vehicles into special vehicles for public transport, police, mobile units, recreation (campers), specials and prototypes. After the move, VDL Bus Venlo will further develop on the site in Born into a specialist in the construction and conversion of vehicles, electrification of heavy vehicles, autonomous driving and contract manufacturing. The current building of VDL Bus Venlo in North Limburg will be transferred to sister company VDL Parree in Sevenum.
VDL Special Vehicles
The activities of another subsidiary of VDL Groep, VDL Special Vehicles in Eindhoven, can roughly be divided into two segments. On the one hand activities as a supplier of chassis for VDL Bus & Coach. In addition, a portfolio is being built up in the field of the assembly of battery-electric and hydrogen solutions for heavier vehicles, which are used in road transport, construction, ports, for Defence and at airports, among other things.
After constructive consultations with the works council and trade unions, agreement has been reached to transfer the Bus & Coach activities of VDL Special Vehicles to VDL Bus Valkenswaard. The other manufacturing-related activities will then be transferred to VDL Bus Venlo, which will be renamed VDL Special Vehicles after the move to Born.
With these activities in the pipeline, it is estimated that the employment of the new VDL Special Vehicles in Born will have grown from approximately 120 employees to approximately 500 employees within a few years. The building of the current VDL Special Vehicles in Eindhoven will gradually be furnished for sister company VDL ETG.
VDL Bus & Coach
Partly due to the great interest in the market for electric public transport, and the positive way in which the new VDL Citea electric city bus has been received, enormous demand is expected from 2024. To comply with this, and to support the employees of VDL Bus & Coach in Valkenswaard and Roeselare (Belgium), we are exploring whether this support can be offered from Born.
Since the acquisition of NedCar by VDL Groep in 2012, VDL Groep has invested 460 million euros in VDL Nedcar. Investments have been made in, among other things, physical and social safety in the factory, canteens, overdue maintenance, production improvements, automation & robotisation and safety. Substantial investments have also been made in the past period, for example in buildings and sustainability. In addition, new investments are planned. This again involves millions of euros.
Investments in VDL Nedcar buildings
Last year, a unit was expanded by 22,000 m2 and another unit (20,000 m2) was added. Concrete floors were recently poured in these new buildings and investments are planned this year to prepare the first unit for the manufacture of the new VDL Special Vehicles. These investments in and to the buildings involve an amount of approximately 60 million euros.
Investments in making VDL Nedcar more sustainable
Substantial investments have and are being made in making the VDL Nedcar site more sustainable. The investments in an e-boiler that reduces the costs of heating the buildings, solar panels, charging stations and charging points for electric vehicles amount to approximately 6 million euros.
When all of the nearly 25,000 solar panels in total have been installed by the end of this year, the expected annual yield is estimated at approximately 8.5 million kWh (kilowatt hours). Assuming an average consumption of 17 kWh per 100 kilometres, this annual yield will allow 3,333 electric cars to drive for a year.
Based on our strength through cooperation, we work together on the future of sustainable mobility.