TAM-Europe seeing rise in orders

Maribor, 10 April - After being forced to significantly reduce production during the pandemic due to reduced demand for airport buses, the Maribor-based bus and commercial vehicle manufacturer TAM-Europe is returning to global markets this year. Recently, it supplied ten airport buses to Saudi Arabia.

Chinese-owned bus manufacturer Tam Europe
Photo: Gregor Mlakar/STA

This is not the only major deal this year as the company also delivered ten buses to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. According to sales manager Matej Smrekar, France is a new market for them and given the good cooperation he is confident that they will start to conquer it.

"We have had a lot of orders from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East from the start, so we are practically following their bus replacement plan," he said, noting that airports were operating at a very reduced level during the pandemic, which had a significant impact on their investments.

Although 2022 started out on a positive note as well, a number of potential deals were cancelled due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. "We had orders for ten vehicles for Ukraine and six for Russia, which were then cancelled," said Smrekar, adding that demand had picked up again towards the end of the year.

Last year, the company manufactured around 20 airport buses, but this year it is receiving a lot more inquiries, orders and is also applying to several international tenders. This year could be the best since 2013, it believes.

In the past, the American and African markets may have been somewhat neglected, with the exception of the northern part of Africa, where the company is already present. More activity is planned there this year.

"However, these are specific deals, as the global airport market is controlled by about a thousand people around the world. Since 2013, and especially since 2017, we have made a lot of contacts, so we are basically the second largest manufacturer in the world. We are successfully chasing our biggest competitor and are in a very good position for the coming years," Smrekar said.

Ever since it revived production of the former Maribor bus and truck maker TVM with the help of Chinese investors, TAM-Europe has been actively working on starting serial production of an electric bus for urban passenger transport, which could become its dominant product in the future.

The development phase of the project is concluded and the company can now apply to EU tenders. Testing has been conducted in Malta, the German cities of Passau and Hamburg, and at Dubai airport. Due to the planned expansion of production, the company is looking to hire some 120 new staff for work in the production but also back-office staff.

Although the market is small, the company sees potential in Slovenia as well given the planned transition of urban public transport to sustainable energy sources. It is also a partner of Fraport, the operator of Ljubljana airport, which has TAM's airport buses.

TAM-Europe, which rose from the ashes of TVM and has taken over the more than 75-year-old TAM brand, is owned by Chinese investors China Hi-Tech New Energy Auto Company, and led by directors Ma Fuxiong and Fan Wentang. The latter joined the team last month.

© STA, 2023