Volvo Buses will close its production facility in Wroclaw, Poland, in the first quarter of 2024. The plant also produces electric buses. The basis of this decision is a change in the business model: Volvo will no longer offer full-size buses in Europe.
In the future, production in Europe will focus only on chassis to produce a variety of buses and coaches for urban and medium-sized companies as well as foreign manufacturers. “Our business in Europe has been making losses for many years. With this business model, which we already use successfully in many markets, we will improve profitability and gain our long-term competitiveness,” explains Anna Westerberg, President of Volvo Buses.
Body production in Wroclaw is planned to continue until the first quarter of 2024. According to the manufacturer, orders for complete buses will be delivered from the factory in Wrocław as planned. The closure of the plant, which currently has 2,100 employees, is intended to help “give Volvo Buses a leaner design, greater flexibility and the opportunity to better meet market needs and customer preferences,” according to an accompanying statement.
According to the new letter of intent signed, the production force is going to Vargas Holding, which is outside the industry. It is said that some Volvo employees will be given jobs in this successor company. According to Volvo, the decision to stop production of full-size buses will affect around 1,600 jobs at Volvo Buses, of which around 1,500 are based in Wrocław.
The commercial vehicle manufacturer assumes that the restructuring of its business model will have a negative impact on earnings in Europe over time: The provision of adjustments of approximately 1.3 billion Swedish kronor (around 120 million euros) will negatively impact operating profit in the first quarter of 2023, announced the management, which estimates the negative cash flow impact expected to be around 1 billion Swedish kronor (around 89 million euros) – most of which should affect the year 2024. Once the transition to the new business model is complete, Volvo Buses expects “European bus business to profit”.
Volvo Bus plants in Sweden and Brazil, which produce chassis, and full bus production in Mexico and North America are not affected by the decision and will continue production as usual.
Volvo Buses had already presented a new electric bus chassis in 2021 under the name BZL Electric. This product category therefore moves to the center of Volvo’s business model. It is designed for single deck buses with many options for bodybuilders and has a full proprietary drivetrain.
The heart of the BZL Electric is an electric motor combined with a two-step automatic gearbox, which has a continuous power of 167 kW, a peak power of 200 kW and a torque of 425 Nm. The power train can be configured for individual buses as a one- or two-car unit with an output of up to 400 kW. In the case of double deckers, there is only one engine difference. The chassis is 11,815 mm long for single deck and 10,585 mm for double deck. Volvo specifies the gross permissible weight at 19.5 tonnes. An axle from Volvo is installed in front (Volvo RFS-L), behind the AV133 axle from ZF. The chassis can accommodate three to five battery packs with NCA cells of 94 kWh each, resulting in three battery options of 282 kWh, 376 kWh and 470 kWh. Volvo did not release any information about the range when it was presented in 2021.
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