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Volvo closes bus plant in Wroclaw – in future chassis with third-party bodies in Europe – cooperation with MCV

Volvo articulated e-bus 7.900 EA for Skånetrafiken | © Volvo

In mid-March, Volvo announced its intention to close its bus plant in Wroclaw, Poland, in the first quarter of the coming year 2024. This is where the manufacturer’s complete buses for the European market were and still are built. The reason given by Volvo for the closure of the plant is that it has made losses in recent years with the construction of complete buses in Europe.

Volvo’s solution to this economic problem is to build only bus chassis for Europe in future, which will come from the Borås and Uddevalla plants in Sweden. These chassis will then go to coachbuilders who will build the complete bodies on them. This construction method has proven itself in the past and is still the standard in many parts of the world. And at least according to German registration law, the buses will remain Volvo, because in Germany the principle applies that the manufacturer of the chassis (the floor assembly) is considered the manufacturer of the entire vehicle.

The plant in Wroclaw is to be taken over by “Vargas Holding”. Vargas Holding is a stranger to bus manufacturing, but wants to build bus bodies here with part of the current workforce of the plant.

Volvo assumes that the closure of the Wroclaw plant will initially have a negative impact on the business result, but that this phase will only be short and that the new structure will then also make money in bus construction. Volvo: “By working with bodybuilders, we can be more flexible and thus better serve the demands of the market and the wishes of the customers.”  

Volvo 7.900 Electric for Skånetrafikenat Gustav Adolfs Torg in Malmö | © Volvo / Peter Kroon

On 25 April, Volvo now announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Egyptian bus builder MCV (Manufacturing Commercial Vehicles), according to which MCV will build Volvo electric buses for urban and intercity transport for the European market from summer 2024. The first finished cars are to be handed over to customers in early 2025.

What is interesting about this is that MCV only recently presented its own self-supporting electric bus MCV C 127 EV – at the VDV electric bus conference in Berlin at the end of March. And for this bus, they have also founded their own sales and service company called “MCV Deutschland GmbH” in Bestwig in the Sauerland region. So MCV has two electric bus series in Europe at the same time?

Yes, at first glance that is correct. But there is a clear difference between the two series: the Volvo coaches will be MCV bodies on Volvo chassis, whereas the MCV C 127 EV is a self-supporting (“integral”) complete bus. There are also bus manufacturers from the past who built bodies on third-party chassis and self-supporting complete buses at the same time and side by side. Kässbohrer (bodies on chassis) / Setra (self-supporting complete buses) and Gottlob Auwärter (chassis) / Neoplan (self-supporting complete buses) are among them.

MCV is to build both “Volvo 7.900 electric” buses and “Volvo 7.900 electric articulated” buses, both as two- and three-axle models. For the intercity sector, Volvo and MCV want to jointly develop a vehicle. Volvo emphasises that it has been working successfully with MCV for some time. For example, it has supplied electric buses for urban transport in London to the bus company “Metroline”.

MCV President Karim Ghabbour says: “We look forward to expanding our cooperation with Volvo and developing attractive offers for customers together.”

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