The VDL Groep is an international industrial and manufacturing company from the Eindhoven area in the Netherlands, owned and run by the Van der Leegte family. Since December 2012 the family business also fully owns the NedCar car factory, currently producing MINIs (previously DAF, Volvo, Mitsubishi and the Smart ForFour). The VDL Groep employs more than 13,000 people.
One of the company’s divisions is VDL Bus & Coach. The coach line is called the Futura, the FHD2 pictured above is the mid-size model. All Futura coaches are powered by a DAF engine and have a ZF transmission, either manual or automatic.
From left to right: the doubledeck FDD2 (three axles), the FHD2 (two or three axles) and the FMD2 (two axles). Each model is offered in multiple lengths.
The absolute top model is the FDD2-141 with a 510 hp 12.9 liter DAF MX-13 engine, it’s 14.15 m (46’5”) long and 4.00 m (13’2”) tall. The steering tag axle has single wheels.
The 2016 Futura FHD2-129 I caught on camera is powered by a 10.8 liter DAF MX-11 engine, good for 440 hp. Exterior dimensions: overall length 12.88 m (42’3”), width 2.55 m (8’4”), height 3.70 m (12’2”).
The view from the driver’s seat.
An example of the interior, a wide range of color- and material options is available.
Here’s the original, the Bova Futura, introduced in 1982. Still an eye-catcher, 35 years later. Bova, the Bots family from Valkenswaard, was one of the many independent bus and coach manufacturers we once had. Bova was taken over by VDL in 2003.
Smit Joure, Berkhof and Jonckheere were also fully integrated into the VDL bus and coach division in the past decades. The brand name VDL for all buses and coaches was introduced in 2010.
And there’s my mother and the touringcarchauffeur (coach driver). She’s ready for a ten days’ trip, together with a friend she knows since kindergarten. That’s about 70 years ago. I brought the ladies, and their luggage (you can see where it goes), to the starting point of their luxurious motorcoach travel to Kirchberg in Tirol, Austria.
That’s Kirchberg alright, in summer and winter. Meanwhile the vacationers have returned to the flat land, safe and sound.
Images 2 to 5: photo courtesy of VDL Bus & Coach
Nice article, and beautiful scenery. Hope your mom enjoys her trip. After the story on blank panels a week or so ago, I’m now fixated on all those missing switches next to the driver, though. What options didn’t the bus company spring for? It’s also a very car-like driving position; I’m still used to the near-horizontal steeering wheels and minimalist interiors on our buses.
The picture seems to be one from the factory, so perhaps nothing is missing.
Correct. I just placed an endnote.
Beautiful bus. The front of these seem to be about 65% windshield. One rock induced crack is going to be one huge replacement cost. Would be interesting to watch the procedure for replacement. Interior and viewing area is impressive.
Before I retired I was a bodyman at an urban transit garage in Canada. The older city buses, New Flyers (low floor and high floor) GM New Looks and Classics had 2 piece windshields and could be changed out by one person in a half an hour. Starting in 2007 new Novabuses with the giant one piece windshields started arriving and due to lack of space at my particular garage and the weight of the glass it became a 2-3 person job for at least 2 hours so the bus was driven to the main bodyshop for replacement of the glass…this is progress I’m told!!
Multiple pane windshields, one crack doesn’t mean the end of the whole “65% windshield” surface.
That’s good to know, makes sense though couldn’t see this with the deep tint in the pictures.
Sound’s like from the post Corners left, Nova Bus (and maybe other makes possibly?) are built with giant one piece windshields that are a big job to replace.
I’ve also read that many coaches have anti-chippings foil (is that correct English?) on the windshield. Done as an aftermarket job, I guess, like a car wrap.
Nice pics. Erm…where’s the gear selector?
A fully automatic ZF AS-Tronic transmission is optional, with a column-mounted manual mode lever.
Selector is on the right of the steering column as per standard euro layout
Nice update from your earlier bus ands coach features, and thanks for clarifying the ancestry of VDL.
You’re right that the Bova Futura looks good for 35 years old – we see them here but I hadn’t realised they went back that far.
What do you or VDL consider tot eh likely life span of such a vehicle, in years or miles?
I have no idea Roger. But I assume that long-distance coaches are perfectly maintained and serviced, preventive maintenance included. Both mechanical and optical. Not good for your image when you get stranded somewhere in the Alps with dozens of passengers who only want to have a good time…
The diesel engines, DAF MX-11 and MX-13 in the Futura coaches, are the same as in the DAF trucks, good for hundreds of thousands of miles.
That aside, there’s a small touroperator nearby who drives several VanHool coaches, around 15 years old and older. They really are in an immaculate condition, like they just came from the factory.
One of the local bus tour operators here in Western Michigan has a small fleet of VanHool coaches. Very nicely built coaches, I’m told they’re very comfortable. I’m a veteran of whatever coaches Greyhound bought back in the day, LOL!
VanHool is a family business, just like VDL. It’s the only bus and coach manufacturer in Belgium left, whereas VDL is the last man standing in the Netherlands.
VanHool also builds semi-trailers. Website in English:
The FDD2 is an amazing package. One of the specifications on the website says the lower deck is no less than 1.86 meter’s high… 6’1 1/4″. The upper floor can’t be much more, allowing for ground clearance. As tall as the Dutch are, one wonders how the vertical ergonomics work out…
In September,1971, I arrived in Rome for a year of art studies. The tour busses, even then were futuristic and quite handsome. It was a shock for someone accustomed to the American style of corrugated, riveted panels.
Oh well, it’s just a short walk to your seat. Or to the toilet. And back to your seat.
I can probably jump around freely on both decks.
Kupers/De Jong are regularly seen here in Austria. I’ll need to take a pic the next time I bump into one of their coaches.
I’ve just checked Kupers’ website, they’ve got a fleet of 55 coaches. De Jong is the name of the travel agency.
Yes – they work a lot together.
Beautiful coaches Johannes – would love to get a ride in that 141 model. Hope Mom had an enjoyable trip. Jim.
She certainly had Jim!
It seems interesting to my eyes to see a bus that size with only two axles. Pretty much all motor coaches over here are three (though city buses are of course two). We don’t get VDL buses on this side of the Atlantic–the two big players remaining in the US market are MCI and VanHool, though I’m starting to see more and more Setra as well.
I think it’s because of the legal maximum axle load(s). The rear axle of the article’s coach is legally rated at a maximum axle load of 11,500 kg (25,353 lbs) and I assume that’s substantially more than in the US.
Just a thought about VDL being offered on your side of the ocean. It wouldn’t be too hard to market these through the PACCAR organization. The MX-11 and MX-13 engines are also offered in Kenworths and Peterbilts, so the hardware is already there.
VDL and DAF (a PACCAR company) get along just fine. In 1993 VDL basically continued the production of DAF bus- and coach chassis after DAF’s truck division went bankrupt. VDL became a true bus and coach builder when they took over Smit Joure a few years later. Plus Berkhof, Jonckheere from Belgium and finally Bova.
We see a lot of VanHools here in the SF Bay Area. Google and other large area employers often use those as employee shuttle buses.