Vehicles

Prevost Grows With Luxury Bus Customers

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 5, 2019
The 2+1 seat picture shows a new option on the H3-45 that debuted at the UMA Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 7. (photos: Prevost)
The 2+1 seat picture shows a new option on the H3-45 that debuted at the UMA Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 7. (photos: Prevost)

The last four years have brought a pivot to big buses as the once-sedan-and-SUV chauffeured transportation market has given way to a growing fleet layer of minibuses and motorcoaches.

One manufacturer that has ridden this wave is Prevost, the Quebec-based maker of high-end luxury passenger motorcoaches and shell provider for elaborate custom corporate and entertainer tourist coaches.  

Since 2015, Prevost has sold a growing number of operators on the value of luxury coaches and their potential high profit margins as the demand for quality group transportation grows throughout the U.S.

“We’ve seen a big change in the limousine industry,” says Francois Tremblay, vice president and general manager for Prevost. “It went from being sticker shock for a new bus to having a taste of the returns and profit they can make, and that has gotten their attention. Now they can really make good money with daily rates and cater to larger corporate accounts.”

Coaches also bring a higher resale value than other luxury fleet vehicles, and such liquidity is an added incentive to move into the segment, he adds.

Prevost vice president and general manager Francois Tremblay says luxury transportation operators are warming up to the higher profits that can be earned on a premium-level luxury bus.
Prevost vice president and general manager Francois Tremblay says luxury transportation operators are warming up to the higher profits that can be earned on a premium-level luxury bus.
Rising Sales And Production

Coach sales to the chauffeured transportation industry have increased year over year since Prevost entered the market in 2015, when it sold 15 buses. In 2018, it targeted 50 buses, and has sold about 110 to date.

Prevost has hit 34.5% market share of the overall North American private motorcoach sector, Tremblay says. “It’s a basically the big three and the competition is between us, MCI, and Van Hool. We’re all in the same market share range, so it’s a very tight race.” The sector numbers about 2,000 coaches per year.

Prevost also serves the public transit bus market as well as providing shells for high-end luxury motor home and entertainment upfitted by coach converters.

Model Preferences

The most popular Prevost model in the industry so far has been the Volvo 9700 in the new coach segment, and the H3-45 in the pre-owned one, Tremblay says (Prevost is part of the Volvo Group).

The 9700, which costs less than a new H3-45, provides a good value package with the same powertrain and support service network. This model year, Prevost is introducing new unbolted seat tracks so operators can change interior configurations, such as removing a few rows for added legroom. “They can make them to their own space specs and create more room for customers,” Tremblay says. “Before, they had to pull seats. Now, it’s easy to do.”

The 9700 comes in a limo spec version that includes features geared toward the chauffeured transportation market, such as black exterior/interior combination, woodgrain flooring, and double-stitch two-tone leatherette seating. “The 9700 limo spec edition has been quite successful since 2017, going from 30 units sold to near 50 in 2018,” Tremblay says.

The pre-owned H3-45s appeal to operators who want an affordable high-end coach with curb appeal and premium luxury amenities.

About 65% of Prevost buses sold within the luxury ground transportation market are Volvo 9700s with the remainder being the H3-45 and X3-45 models.

Luxury Operator Support

Operators who bought Prevost buses have told the manufacturer they like the nationwide service and support network, which Tremblay says is critical for motorcoach service. The network is backed by a 24/7/365 call center and technicians who can either advise on the phone or use from an available fleet of service vans to visit client sites. Prevost also offers same-day shipping on parts.

Prevost has 16 service and support centers in the U.S. and Canada, including its newest one that opened in Orlando, Fla., in October 2018. It also opened one in Hayward, Calif., near San Francisco. Both centers are located in big markets for motorcoach service.

Prevost buses come with two-year full bumper to bumper warranties with the option for a five year extended warranty on the powertrain. “Service reps can go to customers, and we have more than 150 Volvo truck dealers that support the network in addition to the Prevost ones,” Tremblay says.

The operators also tell Prevost they like how the coaches perform, with a smooth quiet ride and easy maintenance. Prevost buses come with Wi-Fi, USB ports, and 110-volt outlets.

Prevost also is installing the Icomera info-entertainment system box either at the factory or service centers. The system can accommodate up to eight different SIM cards and has two antennas and a movie library. Passengers can log in to the Wi-Fi network and select movies without downloading an app like on major U.S. airlines.

Recent Improvements

Among the innovations and improvements Prevost installed in the 2018 models is a redesigned electric fan arrangement in the engine compartment that freed up space for easier mechanic access. The fans replaced a ventilation system driven by belts, enabling the bus to gain 60-70 horsepower and 4% more fuel economy. The self-cleaning dynamic of nine fans creates enough redundancy to allow the engine to function in case one fan goes down.

Prevost also is introducing a refreshed X3-45 model, a slightly lower, longer-wheelbase version of the H3-45 used for inter-city travel and shuttle routes. It’s more suited to maneuvering in tighter areas and under lower bridges. In comparison, the H3-45 has a higher passenger deck and more underbelly luggage storage, making it ideal for longer, multi-day touring trips and excursions.

Operator Dan Goff, owner of A. Goff Transportation in Charlottesville, Va., which runs Prevost buses, and owner of SuperMax Motors, a used bus dealer that is one of two authorized wholesalers for Prevost’s pre-owned bus division, met with Prevost marketing officials before their first LCT show in 2015 and advised them operators are more interested in tapping the large group transportation market, but with an upscale limo approach. (LCT file photo)
Operator Dan Goff, owner of A. Goff Transportation in Charlottesville, Va., which runs Prevost buses, and owner of SuperMax Motors, a used bus dealer that is one of two authorized wholesalers for Prevost’s pre-owned bus division, met with Prevost marketing officials before their first LCT show in 2015 and advised them operators are more interested in tapping the large group transportation market, but with an upscale limo approach. (LCT file photo)
Closing The Full Customer Circle

Since 2015, Prevost has evolved with the limousine industry in providing operators a practical, solid luxury coach that has style and curb appeal, says bus operator Dan Goff, owner of A. Goff Transportation in Charlottesville, Va., which runs Prevost buses, and owner of SuperMax Motors, a used bus dealer that is one of two authorized wholesalers for Prevost’s pre-owned bus division.

“The limo guys understood style and appearance, but had not learned quality, longevity, resale value, and the advantage of a smooth bus ride,” he recalls. “They could tell if the skin was pretty, but weren’t as savvy on the bones. They looked at Prevost and saw motor homes and Elton John tour buses.

“Prevost had a different perception. For them, the ultimate representation of their product was when someone takes a Prevost shell and puts a $2 million upgrade on it. That top tier elite product would seem like it was the logical thing to take to a limo show and put in your advertising to show you really had the quality.”

Goff says he met with Prevost marketing officials before their first LCT show and advised them to show operators bus models that hold 40-60 passengers instead of ones with beds and big screen TVs in them, since operators are more interested in tapping the large group transportation market, but with an upscale limo approach.

Now, you see Prevost focused on amenities such wood floors, leather seats, and accent indirect lighting, which draw many limousine operators to Prevost, Goff says. “In my opinion and those of others, Prevost builds the best product, is the most durable, the best ride, the sexiest, but also has an incredible commitment to service. That wins out. The limo market was quick to pick up on that.”

FASTFACTS: Prevost
Headquarters: Sainte-Claire, Quebec, Canada
Production locations: Sainte-Claire, Quebec and Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Founded: 1924
Group: Prevost is part of the Volvo Group
Bus models: X3-45, H3-45, Volvo 9700
Employees: 2000
Key executives: Francois Tremblay, Prevost VP/general manager; Jack Forbes, VP of North American Sales; and Guy French, services VP and general manager
Website: www.prevostcar.com
Contact: Katlin Voigt, marketing coordinator [email protected]

Model name: Volvo 9700
Length: 45 ft.
Passenger capacity: 56
Luggage capacity: 411ft3/11.4m3
Engine type: Volvo D13
Model landing page URL:
www.volvobuses.us/en-us/home.html

Model name: H3-45
Length: 45 ft.
Passenger capacity: 56
Luggage capacity: 460ft3/13.3m3
Engine type: Volvo D13
Model landing page URL:
www.prevostcar.com/coach/h3-45

Model name: X3-45
Length: 45 ft.
Passenger capacity: 55
Luggage capacity: 380ft3/10.8 m3
Engine type: Volvo D13
Model landing page URL:
www.prevostcar.com/coach/x3-45

Related Topics: bus manufacturers, buses, charter and tour operators, client markets, Dan Goff, group transportation, group travel, ILCT exhibitors and space, luxury buses, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, OEMs, Prevost, seats

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 3 )
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  • Alex Pea

     | about 7 days ago

    MCI looks good but PREVOST is the bomb. Yes lawd

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