VDL to build Ministry of Defence off-road vehicles for Mercedes-Benz
VDL Bus Chassis, which is part of VDL Groep, has received an order from Mercedes-Benz Cars Nederland to build over 500 vehicles, which are to be deployed by the Ministry of Defence. Between 2021 and 2023 VDL will be responsible for all the vehicle-specific modifications. Until 2020 prototypes will be developed, built and tested. The order entails an amount of tens of millions of euros. At a later stage VDL may be awarded an order to build over 500 more vehicles.
These will be vehicles that are suitable for transport by helicopter. The off-road vehicles will be built in three main variants (an infantry vehicle, an ambulance version and a version intended for logistical purposes). There will also be various sub-variants for different units of the Airmobile Brigade.
Mercedes has opted for the concept of a so-called ‘rolling chassis’. This means that a rolling chassis complete with engine, powertrain, wheels and a dashboard is delivered and VDL then fits the vehicles with a roll cage, seats, radio and communication systems and storage space that can accommodate military and modular packages that provide protection to the occupants. VDL will also be jointly responsible for the implementation of a multi-year maintenance contract.
Some changes will be made to VDL Bus Chassis’ factory for this construction work. This VDL unit in Eindhoven, in cooperation with sister companies, will become a knowledge and expertise centre for integration projects for the Ministry of Defence and the National Police. VDL Defence Technologies, one of VDL Groep’s knowledge clusters, will form part of this. The cluster operates as a ‘main contractor’ for the development, production and maintenance of projects in the safety industry. This order for Mercedes-Benz Cars Nederland entails 42 man-years of work in the factory and 15 man-years of engineering. The maintenance contract will run for 10 years, with an extension of twice 5 years. As a sub-contractor of Mercedes-Benz, VDL will also utilise its international network and the experience it has gained in the civil world in order to support the Ministry of Defence during international activities.
“We are proud of the intelligent combination of Mercedes-Benz’s modular solutions and the local flexibility that we have applied for this project. VDL and its suppliers have provided us with a technically advanced, cost-effective tender response”, says a satisfied Niels Kowollik, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars Nederland. “This tender also creates opportunities for the Dutch dealer organisation. Maintenance, repair and possible modifications to these vehicles can provide work until the second half of the 21st century.”
“We are particularly honoured that through this order the cooperation with a leading company like Mercedes-Benz, with parent company Daimler, will be stepped up,” says director Theo Toussaint of VDL Groep. “This work, which will benefit the employment situation in the Netherlands, fits seamlessly into the broad spectrum of our supply activities.” Mercedes-Benz Cars Nederland and VDL have enjoyed success in similar partnerships in the past. Since the end of 2017 VDL Bus Venlo has converted some 1,250 vehicles of the Mercedes B-Class type into the police force’s new surveillance vehicles. VDL Bus Venlo will equip these vehicles with such features as light and sound equipment, vehicle graphics and high-quality communication and navigation equipment, and the boot will be fitted out to accommodate the standard police equipment. In 2016 VDL Bus Venlo received an order from Mercedes-Benz to build 256 vehicles (the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter) into buses for the riot and crowd control police.