VDL Nedcar in The Netherlands builds sustainable mobility solutions together with German ElectricBrands
VDL Nedcar is undergoing a transition from an independent car manufacturer to a broad partner in sustainable mobility. This increases the added value and future-proofing of the country's only passenger car factory where serial assembly takes place for third parties. The broadening of activities at VDL Nedcar in Born is visible in three areas: the assembly of vehicles for various clients, various sustainable mobility solutions in the Mobility Innovation Center (MIC) and facilitating the growth strategy of sister companies, operating companies that are also part of VDL Group. In recent years, land has been purchased and permit processes have been completed to transfer these broad activities to VDL Nedcar in Born.
A new activity that fits the first track, vehicle assembly, is the production of the world's first convertible with a pure electric drive, the MINI Cabrio Electric for BMW Group. Production of the limited edition of this model is scheduled to start in April 2023. ElectricBrands, the German manufacturer of sustainable and innovative electric vehicles, is the first target e-mobility customer of the MIC. The letter of intent will be worked out in the coming period in order to establish a structural collaboration with ElectricBrands.
Evetta and XBUS: two models from ElectricBrands
VDL Nedcar and ElectricBrands are discussing the production of two models in Born: the e-city car Evetta and the modular XBUS. The plan is for the first Evetta to be produced in Born in the second quarter of 2024, and the first XBUS a year later. The associated production volume depends on the sales numbers. ElectricBrands already has orders for approximately 16,000 vehicles for the XBUS and more than 1,000 vehicles for the Evetta.
“We are delighted that we have found not only a production location in VDL, but also a financially stable, healthy and innovative family business that will build our vehicles,” said Ralf Haller, founder and CEO of ElectricBrands. “VDL will support us expertly and with a great deal of experience in the further development of our vehicles. This will ultimately benefit our customers who order or have ordered our vehicles.”
“With our own vehicles developed by ElectricBrands, we can jointly contribute to shaping the mobility of the future,” says CEO John van Soerland of VDL Nedcar. “A future in which we perform different activities for several partners at the same time. The collaboration with ElectricBrands offers prospects for VDL Nedcar.”
Mobility Innovation Center (MIC): connection with mobility trends
Much is still new and unknown in the transition to sustainable e-mobility for passenger cars. A field where collaboration is essential. This also applies to the activities that will take place at the MIC. In addition to assembly for e-mobility, the MIC develops activities together with partners that are in line with VDL Groep's broad mobility strategy: design, electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and systems.
Battery production line
The MIC is developing a demo line to assemble heavy and complex battery packs. A challenge in which various mobility partners from the consortium Green Transport Delta – Electrification work together. Since 2021, VDL Nedcar has been the driving force behind this project in which 28 industry partners and companies are participating, with the aim of developing a battery ecosystem in the Netherlands that can accelerate the transition to climate-neutral mobility.
“In Green Transport Delta we are developing a flexible and automated pilot production line for battery packs where both suppliers and OEMs can jointly gain knowledge,” says CTO René Vounckx of VDL Nedcar.
The planning is that this battery line will be tested in March 2023. VDL Nedcar is holding constructive talks with car and bus builders to have their batteries assembled in Born. The knowledge cluster for batteries, Battery Competence Cluster (BCC), of which VDL Groep is a co-founder and partner, supports this project with knowledge and skills. The importance of battery technology is further supported by a proposed investment from VDL Groep in the National Growth Fund of more than 25 million euros in the further development and upscaling of battery technology in the Netherlands.
In the disruptive mobility sector, new competencies are also needed to remain future-proof. VDL Nedcar will offer its employees the opportunity to connect with the activities of 'today and tomorrow' by following training courses. In collaboration with employers' organizations and knowledge institutions, the MIC creates sustainable and hybrid training places.
Independent car manufacturer
After the current production contract has expired in 2024, premium production for the BMW Group will come to an end after 10 years. During that period, a lot of employment was created through the production of more than a million cars. VDL Nedcar is holding constructive talks with various interested parties to continue its activities as an independent car manufacturer.
VDL Nedcar was recently commissioned by our partner BMW Group to take the first models of the MINI Cabrio Electric into production, a sign of confidence in VDL's electrical competences. The MINI Cooper SE Convertible is the world's first convertible with a pure electric drive. The production start of this limited model (999 cars) in Born is scheduled for April 2023. Where it normally takes 1 to 2 years to build a production line, the skilled employees of VDL Nedcar have completed this job in just six months.
Another activity that VDL Nedcar recently started is preparing cars for delivery and so-called pre-delivery inspections, inspections of cars before they are delivered. In the automotive sector there is a great demand for service partners for the implementation of such projects.
Possibility of expansion for VDL sister companies
The third track that is being followed, to ensure the long-term continuity of business and the associated employment at VDL Nedcar, is to facilitate the growth of various sister companies in Born, companies that, like VDL Nedcar, are part of parent company VDL Groep – and are active in the field of mobility - and have outgrown their current location. These plans are also being worked out.
VDL Nedcar will continue to exist
Adjustments to the factory in Born are necessary to prepare VDL Nedcar for the new activities. This involves investments that run into the hundreds of millions of euros. The infrastructure in the area will also need adjustments. The completion of the current contract with BMW Group and the start-up of the other activities will, as we know, be accompanied by fluctuations in the workforce. After the start-up phases of the intended diversity of activities, the aim remains to maintain sustainable employment at VDL Nedcar, a multiple of the situation in 2012.
The transition to sustainable e-mobility ensures that VDL Nedcar sees opportunities in Born to play a leading role in broad and specialist mobility issues, both independently building vehicles for third parties, developing sustainable mobility solutions in the MIC and facilitating the growth strategy of VDL sister companies. The first steps have already been taken on all three tracks. One thing is crystal clear: VDL Nedcar will continue to exist.