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Bernard Van Hool (founder)|
Filip Van Hool (CEO)
Van Hool USA|
Van Hool Macedonia
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.
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.
In Europe, Van Hool has a broad range of coaches, though all designs share similar looks and are based on the same platform, the TX. 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.
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":
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.
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':
Production of the A-series continued into the early 21st century, when it was replaced by the newA-series.
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.)
At Busworld 2011 in Kortrijk, Belgium, Van Hool presented the successor to the T9 series. The new series is called TX.
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.
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. A fleet of ExquiCity 18s commenced service in Belfast on 3 September 2018 delivering the Belfast Rapid Transport service marketed under the name Glider.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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.
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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.
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.