VDL acquires order for 77 automated guided vehicles for Port of Rotterdam

This is the third large order of AGVs VDL will be supplying to ECT. The first contract was awarded in 2011. The first deliveries at the time consisted of a total of 85 AGVs. Each AGV has since transported more than 100,000 containers. The motivation for the new order derives from the positive experience with the earlier supplied vehicles and the trust that has developed between the two parties over the years. The new order concerns the replacement of older, diesel-driven AGVs.

Autonomous and hybrid-electric

The vehicles will be fully developed by VDL and are going to entirely autonomously and hybrid-electrically transport containers 24 hours per day between the quay and the container storage area, at the largest AGV terminal in the world, the ECT Delta Terminal at the Maasvlakte. The AGVs are low-noise and consume over half less fuel than the vehicles they will be replacing.
VDL Groep’s knowledge and expertise in the automotive sector relating to safety, design, electrification, connectivity, autonomous operation and mobility as a service will also be applied to the new AGVs. The modular construction of the vehicles makes it possible to exchange technologies among all VDL vehicles, so that innovations – for example a fully electric drive – can be easily integrated.

Navigation System

One of the largest innovations that will be incorporated into the new AGVs, is the integration of VDL’s own state-of-the-art navigation system. This system is based on a comparable system that is also used by large car manufacturers. This navigation system provides for more efficient container transhipment: because the AGVs can communicate with each other, this makes it possible for them to drive closer together and this also results in shorter waiting times between trips, which in turn means that more containers per AGV can be transported. Another advantage of VDL’s AGVs is that the vehicles, in contrast to other container handling vehicles, have been designed analogous to a regular road vehicle. This makes it possible to track developments in the automotive sector for the continued development of the AGVs.


President and CEO of VDL Groep, Willem van der Leegte: ‘Over the last few days we once again demonstrated that Dutch companies are specialists on and around water. We are tremendously proud that ECT and VDL have once again found each other and that employees of both companies will be moving this form of high-quality transport another step forward. VDL is a European frontrunner in the
electrification of heavy transport and a trendsetter in the area of automated vehicles. These AGVs are a perfect confirmation and a further expansion of VDL’s position.’


Leo Ruijs, CEO Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam: ‘We constantly continue to invest in our terminals and therefore also in our equipment. Together with VDL we are working on further modernising our AGV fleet for efficient container handling. The modular structure also supports our objective of working increasingly more sustainably by making use of new technologies.’