After a few turbulent years in the motorcoach industry, Prevost is focusing its efforts on helping its customers get back to business.
In addition to offering a host of new products and business solutions, the esteemed motorcoach manufacturer is positioned as an industry partner for re-opening customers as well as operators looking to right-size their fleets.
“In every conversation we have with our customers, ‘getting back to business’ is their constant focus,” said Michael Power, director of marketing for Prevost. “So, our current efforts are all about moving forward and helping the customers achieve that goal.”
Prevost’s latest line of products are intended to help customers streamline their operations, improve safety, and restore customer confidence in intercity coach travel and tours.
Prevost debuted the Cloud One, its exclusive and proprietary seat line designed for the North American market, at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO in February.
“Riders interact with their seat more than any other part of a motorcoach,” Power said. “The seat makes an incredible impression on a rider’s memories about a trip, and we have heard that from many of our operators.”
The Cloud One line was designed with ergonomics and passenger comfort in mind. It is the result of several years of research and development, with Prevost consulting with customers, suppliers, and its own industrial design team to conduct ergonomic and stress tests before settling on the final offering.
Customer workshops with real passengers helped determine seating height, cushion firmness, foam locations, seat belt placements, and other attributes.
Power said the seat is designed to reduce fatigue during long trips and is optimized for taller riders. It features a more comfortable upright position, a new ergonomic headrest, and what Prevost said is industry-leading lumbar support.
“The seat is immediately and visually striking when you board a motorcoach,” Power said. “And the comfort is apparent as soon as a rider sits down.”
The Cloud One line is available in multiple trim options, with full leatherette or full leather with double stitching and piping. Additional tufting is available in black, ultimate, cognac, or flagship designs.
Holiday Motor Coach of Idaho Falls, Idaho, took delivery of six new buses in September 2021, each featuring the new Cloud One seating line.
“The Cloud One is a great fit for our clients,” said Brian Lott, owner of Holiday Motor Coach. “Our riders are relaxed, thrilled, and easily able to see the scenery outside on our trips. For athletic teams, the extra legroom space is a big plus.”
Clean + Care Program
A direct action against the COVID-19 pandemic, Prevost unveiled Clean + Care in 2020 and has steadily expanded the program since then.
The program was designed to support operators’ ongoing needs throughout the pandemic. Among other initiatives, the program helps connect Prevost’s customers directly with access to products like driver protection systems, partitions, air filtration, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, alert decals, electrostatic sprayers, face masks and PPE, cleaning checklists, and more.
Most notably, the Clean + Care program includes EnviroCare – a dual ionizer system which naturally and automatically cleans and sanitizes contaminants, bacteria, viruses, in the air and on interior surfaces.
The EnviroCare system releases ions into the air, producing positive and negative ions from water and oxygen molecules. These ions continuously decompose pollutants, reducing their concentration throughout the bus. When the process is complete, the ions turn into water vapor and return harmlessly to the air.
“We want to arm our operators with not only the greatest level of cleaning, but also the peace-of-mind that comes from passenger safety,” said Kevin Dawson, vice president and general manager of services for Prevost. “EnviroCare allows passengers to get on our buses with a level of confidence that’s very similar to airline industry. We’re cleaning the air as you’re going down the road, regardless of how many passengers are in the coach.”
The Hampton Jitney of New York was an early tester of the EnviroCare system, according to Geoffrey Lynch, president.
“Like other operators, we have been doing all sorts of enhanced cleaning, fogging, and disinfecting,” he said. “When we heard about EnviroCare, we immediately sent a coach up for installation. Customers really appreciate the extra level of cleanliness, and the hospital-grade sanitization. It helps us market our services to school groups and travel groups that might still be hesitant to travel on motorcoaches.”
Prevost also recently debuted eMirrors, the first electronic side mirror system in the North American motorcoach industry. This stand-alone system replaces a coach’s traditional mirrors with cameras and monitors.
The eMirrors system minimizes blind spots and increases drivers’ field of view. It provides great visibility, even in pitch-black driving conditions.
“The eMirrors are a perfect example of Prevost seeking solutions that will help bring new drivers into our industry – thereby helping our customers get rolling at full strength again,” Power said. “They boost driver confidence by allowing for better maneuvering in tight spaces, and can even reduce fatigue over time.”
Furthermore, the lightweight system improves fuel economy by up to 3 percent and can eliminate the need for costly replacements due to broken mirrors.
The Hampton Jitney was one of the first companies to install eMirrors on its coaches.
“I think eMirrors are eventually going to be a standard option in every vehicle on the road, not just motorcoaches,” Lynch said. “They save a lot of money on dinged mirrors, and just add to the level of safety on and around a coach.”
Power said the Driver Assist system, while not a brand-new platform, is another initiative meant to boost driver confidence and improve passenger safety.
Driver Assist fully integrates radar, camera and brake technologies and combines these technologies to work together, gathering and sharing information, functioning simultaneously to create driver assistance aimed at reducing incidents and lowering operational costs.
“The industry lost a lot of drivers in the past few years,” Power said. “Technologies like proximity sensors, collision warnings, and advanced braking systems are very important for new drivers whom our customers want to hire.”
Driver Assist includes adaptive Cruise Control with Braking, following distance alerts, frontal collision mitigation, stationary vehicle braking, lane departure warnings, and other safety-focused features.
Campbell Bus Lines of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, is a longtime Prevost customer. Todd Campbell, owner, said that Driver Assist has been invaluable to his operation.
“Driver Assist takes safety to a whole new level,” Campbell said. “It assists the driver in making the trip safer and better – everything from lane departure warnings, following distance alerts, and more. It gives an already-safe driver everything they need for a safer trip.”
Business Solutions to Boost the Industry
Short Term Vehicle Solutions
Prevost also offers short term solutions, utilizing used vehicle rentals, for customers that are wary of overextending their resources during difficult financial times.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we found that our customers’ ability to buy new equipment was dramatically affected,” said Brad Wiese, vice president, sales – North America. “Prevost really stepped forward to help bolster the market’s comeback by developing new short-term vehicle solutions.”
The program is set up in three tiers:
Prevost Rental – a pure rental program for operators with a very short-term need, or the inability to purchase a new vehicle. Prevost offers rentals on pre-owned vehicles for any period less than 12 months.
“Rentals have really helped the market, in our experience,” Wiese said. “We have a large fleet of rentals on the road now, helping our customers accomplish their goals and meet needs.”
Short-term leases – for pre-owned vehicles.
“The short-term lease is for a year or less, when the customer is still wanting to commit to a potential buyout at the end of the lease,” Wiese said. “Depending on the program, up to 80 percent of the payments you make in that year can go toward the purchase price as a down payment if you decide to purchase the vehicle. This has allowed our customers to actually build equity while they are running the vehicle.”
Operating leases – for new or pre-owned vehicles.
Also known as a walk-away lease or fair market value lease. Customers agree to pay the lease for 12 months or longer. At the end of that period, the customer can walk away and return the vehicle, extend the lease and continue payments, or purchase the vehicle outright.
“Some operators are a little skittish about committing to a normal loan right now, due to reduced revenues,” Wiese said. “This lets them be more flexible and make decisions based on up-to-date revenue/debt calculations.”
“This is not something Prevost traditionally offered to the market,” Wiese said. “But, after looking at the constraints and the struggle that a lot of our operators are seeing, we needed to step up.”
Because the demand for these programs has been so high, Wiese said that the Short-Term Vehicle Solutions seem to be here to stay, beyond the pandemic and its residual effects.
Lott said that Holiday Motor Coach leased buses in 2020 and 2021 as well, to help with trip overflow.
“Prevost really helped us through a difficult time in obtaining buses, and helped fulfilled our needs,” he said. “That is a big reason why we love to work with them.”
Block of Hours
Prevost introduced the new Block of Hours program at UMA Motorcoach EXPO in February, available for operators with any sized fleet and for all major coach makes and models. The program lets operators secure a regularly scheduled timeslot in a Prevost service center.
Designed to promote efficiency and uptime, the service is available for scheduled maintenance or unexpected stops.
Repair parts are offered at a discounted rate through a Block of Hours agreement, and labor rates are fixed. The service can be divided into either weekly or bi-weekly visits.
“We needed to provide a solution that helps customers lift their businesses from an equitable cashflow position – but without having to quickly take on too much overhead,” Dawson said. “Block of Hours is the solution to that need. It goes hand-in-hand with our other financial solutions.”
Prevost Uptime is an expansion of its maintenance intervals program. Maintenance or service is planned and priced in advance, with coaches protected for as little as $15 per day.
“Uptime allows the customer again to predict their maintenance cost, which is very useful given the industry’s current financial circumstances,” Dawson said. “We realized that we must help the customer lift their predictive costs, because they’re dealing with enough unpredictable variables as it is.”
Uptime includes all preventive maintenance as prescribed for a coach in accordance with the Prevost Service at a Glance schedule. Other options can be added to adapt to a fleet’s ongoing needs.
Prevost’s Parts Assist is the company’s 100-percent Electronic Parts Catalog, and is another tool created to support customers. Available via desktop or mobile, the database is updated instantly and allows for real-time ordering and inventory.
Prevost Services Assist
Prevost launched Services Assist in January 2022. The Services Assist tool was developed using data to ensure the customer’s vehicle has all the right preventive maintenance completed as needed, using the manufacturer recommendation.
Through the right offer to the right vehicle at the right time, Services Assist helps to improve equipment life and reduce unplanned maintenance activity.
“We have now developed a behind-the-scenes, telematic-based system which uses warranty and historical data to monitor and project the customers’ mileage at various interval times,” Dawson said. “Then, it forecasts what needs to be replaced at the preventive maintenance level.”
“We are, in essence, making a service offer to a customer at the right mileage, at the right parts availability, and allowing that customer to make an informed decision about scheduling service,” he continued. “The predictive algorithm is VIN-specific, so the customer knows that this data is accurate and personalized.”
Dawson said the Services Assist program promises to improve vehicle uptime, extend asset life, reduce operational costs, protect coach values, and – perhaps most critical at this time – offer peace of mind to customers.
“The message is this: Let us help you keep tracking what preventive maintenance is required for your vehicle,” he said.
Volvo Financial Services
Prevost’s captive finance partner Volvo Financial Services also presents a great tool for motorcoach customers.
“Some of our operator customers were experiencing difficulty in making payments on time,” Wiese said. “Because of our relationship with Volvo Financial Services, we are often able to work out deferments and note modifications in order to help our customers through the pandemic.”
Wiese added that, coming out of the pandemic, some motorcoach operators are turned down by their longtime financing sources – but are now being approved and buying new equipment through Volvo Financial Services. The service is not for new operators looking to enter the industry – rather, it is largely intended for proven operators who are now finding it difficult to secure funding.
“It’s our product,” he said. “We can back the product as well as its residual value. It’s great to be able to finance our product for people who might otherwise have a hard time finding funds through traditional sources.”
The Volvo Service Network
Prevost still has the largest service network in the motorcoach industry, with 17 service centers, more than 60 mobile service vans, and strategic parts storage and distribution locations.
“It really is a partnership – and Prevost is serious about it,” Campbell said. “Campbell Bus Lines has sent numerous techs to training courses at Prevost Service Centers, and they have done everything they possibly can to help us move forward as a business.”
In addition to its vast service network, Prevost offers the Prevost Action Service System® (PASS) – a 24/7/365 resource for operators. Providing toll-free technical assistance from qualified and trained representatives, PASS helps operators find their nearest qualified road service, emergency maintenance assistance and towing, scheduling for emergency service, expedited parts delivery, and even help with finances and warranty claims.
Customers can work with Prevost through either its large and dedicated team of customer support specialists, or through a variety of mobile apps. These include:
Service Locator Mobile App – helping customers find their nearest Prevost Service Provider in North America
Prevost Tools App – provides access to wiring diagrams, pneumatic diagrams, technical manuals, driver’s guides, service bulletins, and more
DeliveryTrack App – the latest in Prevost’s app offerings, allows managers to take live photos to support claims, deliveries, or request technical assistance
“Mobile apps have presented an amazing way to connect even more operators with our service network,” Power said.
“Things Are Now Moving”
Wiese said that Prevost’s message to customers is, “We’ve also felt the pain of the pandemic but are prepared to ride through it as your partner. Coming out of this, we are looking to put tools, products, and solutions in place to help you get back to business.”
“Coaches are moving again,” he added. “Things are finally looking up, and Prevost is here to support that recovery.”