1991 - 1997: Ready for new challenges
Van Hool expanded the industrial vehicle factory with a parts warehouse for product support and a 2,000 sq m office complex. A new 6,000 sq.m. assembly factory for Van Hool underframes and a modern 4,000 sq m complex for the production administration were set up.,Almost all European constructors focused their attention on the European market. Van Hool decided to penetrate Switzerland and Italy.
Launch of the A300 with its 300 mm floor height over the whole length of the vehicle at the UITP congress in Stockholm.,Launch of the T8 New Look. The coach operators remained cautious in their purchasing behaviour. Instead of choosing for a completely new concept, Van Hool stayed with the T8’s consistency in concept and design. The customers very much appreciated this, and especially its profitability. At the 1991 Kartrijk Car and Bus Fair, the Van Hool T815 Acron was voted as technically the best coach.
The Wallonian Transport Company issued a major general tender for 317 city and intercity buses. Unjustly, the order was not awarded to Van Hool. The European Court of Justice ruled against the Belgian State over this matter but the order had already been carried out Renault Véhicules Industriels. A new general tender was issued in 1996, again with legal consequences. However, after some months, an order for 205 buses was placed with Van Hool.
Van Hool reached an agreement with the local manufacturer, De Simon. It enabled Van Hool to make deliveries to approximately ten Italian cities in a short space of time.,A similar co-operation agreement was reached with the Greek company, Sfakianakis in Athens. It resulted in an order for 143 low floor buses for Athens.
The Van Hool vehicles were launched on the German market. By 1997, Van Hool buses were running in 16 German cities.,Things were not looking so good for the industrial vehicle factory. However, there was further automation of the production lines.,Van Hool designed a number of vehicles with alternative fuels, such as a hybrid midibus, a bi-mode trolley bus, a natural gas bus. Van Hool’s success was modest.,Van Hool delivers its 1,000th coach for the American market.,At the European Car and Bus Fair in Kortrijk, the first T9 model was premiered.
The mega volume-trailer was a pioneer in the constant search for weight reduction in tilt and curtainsider semi-trailers.,Van Hool also responded to the increase in inter-modal transport. A complete range of tank containers was developed in a short space of time. A separate production line was set up. Van Hool became one of the tree leading manufacturers of tank containers.