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Groningen and Drenthe: 54 Van Hool A 15 LE for the Dutch Qbuzz

Van Hool, bus builder from the Belgian town of Lier(-Koningshooikt), reports that it has signed a purchase contract with the Dutch regional transport company Qbuzz for 54 battery-electric low-entry buses of the new type “Van Hool A 15 LE”. The buses are to be delivered in autumn 2024 and will be used in the two Dutch provinces of Groningen and Drenthe in the north-east of the country around the cities of Groningen and Assen. Here there is the “Qliner” express bus network, which connects the large towns in the region via direct services using comfortable buses, and the new Van Hool are to be used on this network.

© Qbuzz

These Van Hool A 15s are indeed brand new. The new bus series “A”, to which they belong, was only “launched” last summer in 2022, and was shown for the first time at a trade fair at Innotrans 2022 in Berlin in September 2022. What is new about the “A” series is that Van Hool is completely abandoning the combustion engine with it – these new, modern public transport buses are only available with electric drive, be it with battery, be it with fuel cell, be it in certain versions also as a trolleybus.

The “A 15” version of this Van Hool series is even still completely new. On Van Hool’s homepage, you will find the series A 12 (as battery, hydrogen and trolley bus), A 13 (as battery and hydrogen bus), A 18 (articulated bus) as battery, hydrogen and trolley bus, the double articulated bus A 24 as battery-electric bus and the futuristically styled ExquiCity 18 again as battery, hydrogen and trolley bus. There is only one type you won’t find there yet: the A 15, which is to be delivered to the Netherlands next year.  It is a completely new variant within the new series.

The A 15 LE will be 15 metres long, and it will be a low-entry bus, with a low-floor floor in the front part of the coach up to and including the double-wide centre door, and a high-floor area in the rear half of the coach. At the front, the coaches for Qbuzz will have a single-wing door.  The A 15 LE will be a three-axle bus – the weight of a 15-metre-long bus has to be carried. The drive will be on the second axle, the third axle will be a self-steering trailing axle.

Since passengers will be travelling from city to city for long periods of time, the buses will be equipped with comfortable coach seats with safety belts instead of normal seats. There are footrests, USB charging points and folding tables at every seat. Passengers’ luggage is stored above the seats. Three monitors provide information on the route, connections and the like. A manually operated wheelchair ramp also provides barrier-free access to the vehicle for people with disabilities. Mirror eye cameras are available for the driver’s view behind the bus.

Dirk Huzeling, manager at Qbuzz, explains: “Because the buses travel for a long time from city to city with high speeds, we chose the Van Hool A 15 LE with 55 comfortable seats and a large operating radius (range of the batteries).”

About Van Hool

Belgian bus builder Van Hool was founded in 1947, so it is now 76 years old. The beginning looked somewhat unorthodox: Farmer Bernard van Hool “knitted” himself a bus to take his farm workers to the fields. His farmer neighbours liked this bus so much that they asked van Hool to build one for them. Today, van Hool has grown into a large company with 2,500 employees, which proudly calls itself “Europe’s largest independent bus builder” because it does not belong to any of the large automobile groups. A few years before the competition, Koningshooikt began to build hydrogen buses with fuel cells – the first of these buses were delivered to North America. Accordingly, Van Hool also refers to its long experience with this technology. In addition to buses, van Hool also builds trailers for semi-trailers. The company’s two plants are located in Lier(-Koningshooikt) in Belgium and in Skopje in northern Macedonia, and their products are mainly sent to Europe and North America.

© Van Hool
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