Despite the crisis affecting the sector, Belgium remains a major player in automotive assembly. With plants like Opel Antwerp, Ford Genk, Audi Forest /Brussels, Volvo Europe in Ghent, Van Hool (buses) and Truco, we can rightly claim to have established a strong foothold in the vehicle production market.
Toyota, too, chose Brussels as the location for its European headquarters, with Toyota Motor Marketing Europe authorised to promote and sell vehicles on the particularly strong and fiercely competitive European market.
Impressive production figures
In 2008, Belgium turned out 724,498 vehicles, most of them destined for the export market. Of this total number of vehicles made in Belgium, 434,875 were private cars, 245,256 were vehicles for transporting people or goods, 43,068 were utility vehicles weighing in excess of 3.5 tonnes and 1,286 were coaches.
The automotive sector is also a major employer in Belgium. In 2007, accounting for more than 100,000 jobs, including close to 25,000 in assembly plants alone.
Belgium is an attractive country for vehicle manufacturers. Not only does it offer a highly qualified workforce with a proven track record of high productivity; it also has the ports to enable rapid distribution and research centres to test parts and components and look into the potential of new technologies.
Flanders also has its very own innovation network, called Flanders' DRIVE. This initiative offers companies and research establishments like universities the possibility of exchanging know-how and launching joint projects. The network sets out to boost the production and development capacities of suppliers based in Flanders.
Sector at a crossroads
The automotive industry in Belgium is at a crossroads. To remain a major economic sector, the industry is turning to high technology, e.g. hybrid technology and new materials in particular.