50 years of customisation
Our company’s story starts with an upholsterer and father of three boys working from early in the morning to midnight, and has continued its family theme to this day – ‘family’ remaining the guiding principle for Finland’s leading manufacturer of wheelchair accessible taxis, large taxis and minibuses.
From a horse and cart to large taxi vehicles
Rauno Jonasson started his business in a modest car garage in Kaleva, Tampere, in autumn 1965. By the time the new factory building in Lielahti was ready in 1988, the family saw their dreams come true. Large taxi vehicles, for which there was increasing demand, were the main motivating factor behind the new premises.
Jonasson had already started fitting large taxi vehicles during the Transporter T3 rear-wheel-drive van ‘era’ at this point. At the end of the 1980s, many different makes of car were being produced in Lielahti, but the company was finding it too time-consuming to meet its own car-specific quality targets. One of the more original tasks we remember from that time was doing the leather upholstery for a Finnish business executive’s horse and cart. Driver seat ergonomics and options for seat modification also formed part of our work in those days.
Collaboration with Volkswagen speeds up growth
The front-wheel drive Transporter T4, a car which would prove popular among taxi drivers, was launched in 1990. Staff at Jonasson’s factory proceeded to look closely at how this new model could be modified for different purposes. To do so, it was decided the company would have to broaden its knowledge base and introduce a factory-like planning system – vehicle manufacturing would in turn end up being a turning point for the company. Gradually, the company became a Volkswagen Transporter specialist and a forerunner in commercial vehicles.
The success achieved over the next few years were the result of lots of hard work – the company maintaining annual growth of 30 percent even during the recession, for example. As bespoke cars were still rare at that time in the rest of the world, Jonasson also received orders from other countries. Take the world’s most expensive and tallest hotel, Burj al Arab, for example, which ordered a magnificent bus for their delegates from Lielahti – an order in which Volkswagen’s factory in Hannover played their part. This GLE V.I.P. Business bus was to ferry passengers between the hotel and airfield, and was fitted with one mod con after another. It even managed to impress the sheiks! Further clear evidence that the company was on the right tracks was provided by the ‘Company of the Year’ and ‘top employer’ awards won in this decade.
The turn of the new millennium saw Jonasson not only begin collaborating with VV-Auto, but also with Svenska Volkswagen Ab (Volkswagen Sweden). Despite fourfold expansion of the production areas at Lielahti over time, indoor and, in particular, courtyard space began to get tight as the rate of production continued to increase.
It was time to move again, this time to the new and roomy car factory in Ylöjärvi, which was finished in 2007. This made it possible to increase the cost-effectiveness of production even further, as well as taking customer satisfaction and staff morale to a whole new level. The increased production capacity led, in 2007, to the launch of the Volkswagen Crafter and, in 2008, to the launch of the low-floor Volkswagen Caddy Maxi series.
This series was expanded in autumn 2010 to include the production of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-brand taxis and buses. Mercedes Benz Vito Carsport followed in 2011, and Mercedes-Benz Citan a couple of years after that.
Production of the Ford series began in 2013 with Ford Transit Custom, joined by the Ford Grand Tourneo Connect in 2014.
Home-grown workmanship on the customers’ terms
The past few years have been eventful and busy with work. We promise to continue listening to our customers and remain flexible in our response to the market situation so that we deliver an even better product to professional drivers than before. We want cars with Carsport equipment to remain known as top home-grown design and to continue to be known for their high quality. Half a century on, the people of Jonasson Oy remain the company’s future.