At the beginning of 2023, many were surprised after Volvo Buses announced that it would close its body manufacturing plant in Wroclaw, Poland, where both city buses and 9700 and 9900 coaches were built for the European market. This led the Swedish brand to focus completely on the production of chassis, a decision that has also been followed by other manufacturers in the old continent affected by the low sales of road models, generating losses in this line of business, in a sector that still needs to recover after the pandemic.
In March 2023, changes aimed at refocusing the Volvo Buses business in Europe began, as production at the plants in Mexico (Tultitlán), Brazil (Curitiba) and India (Hosakote) remains unchanged. The solution has been to strengthen agreements with allies and experts in the construction of bodywork, leaving the double deck 9700 solely in the hands of the Finnish Carrus.
The closing of the agreement with the Egyptian company MCV had already been announced, leaving it in charge of manufacturing the bodies for the 7900 electric city buses. Now Volvo Buses announces a definitive deal with the Spanish manufacturer Sunsundegui, located in the province of Navarra and an ally of many years in the manufacture of urban and especially road models with creations that are classics such as the Sb3 interurban coach or the Sc5 and Sc7 for longer journeys.
A pre-agreement between Sunsundegui and Volvo Buses had been concluded in May 2023, allowing the Navarrese builder, with the support of local authorities, to strengthen its human resources, in addition to providing economic resources to advance with the recovery of the bodybuilder that, after the pandemic, was forced to cut its staff.
The definitive agreement was signed in October 2023 and will allow Sunsuindegui, from the second quarter of 2024, not only to be in charge of building the bodies, as Volvo Buses will transfer the engineering for the development of the 9700 and 9900 coaches.
Sunsundegui hopes to increase its production to 783 units per year and have more than 700 collaborators. It will also seek to strengthen the development of Navarrese suppliers for the supply of components for the construction of the bodies. All this, in a plan to exceed 500 million euros in sales between 2024 and 2028.
The investment plans are around 15 million euros, there are also plans for the development of electric models to begin at the end of 2024, while the new coaches built in Sunsundegui should begin deliveries in 2025.
Volvo Buses will continue to be the point of contact for sales and service processes, both for current customers and new business prospects, as part of the new business model for the old continent.