Prevost Introduces The All-New H3-45
The redesigned H3-45 includes engineering advances that deliver improved benefits for three core groups: Operators, Drivers and Passengers.
Built For Operators, Drivers & Passengers
By Harrell Kerkhoff Busline Magazine Editor
The next generation Prevost H3-45 motorcoach was officially unveiled at the United Motorcoach Association’s (UMA) 2023 Motorcoach Expo, in January. The H3-45 made its public debut as part of a year-long introduction.
“I am proud to stand here with you tonight to announce the rebirth of an icon of our industry, the new H3-45,” Prevost President François Tremblay said, during a special ceremony at the Expo. “We have waited several years to bring this new coach to reality, focusing on the desires of operators for ever-improving total cost of ownership, product service reliability and superior driver and passenger experiences.
“By challenging us, Prevost continues to focus on producing better products, and becoming a better company and partner.”
He added: “The H3-45 is our flagship, and has set the standard in the industry over the past two decades. We’ve re-engineered all aspects of the coach in order to create a best-in-class vehicle that is an obvious standout. The interior, which has been completely redesigned, was inspired by the automotive and aerospace industries. Everything we executed on the new H3-45 we did with the user experience in mind.”
Tremblay noted the redesigned H3-45 features a series of engineering advances that delivers improved benefits for three core groups: Operators, Drivers and Passengers.
- For operators, a new aerodynamic shape makes the H3-45 up to 12 percent more fuel efficient, greatly improving cost of ownership, according to Tremblay.
“Many things were examined related to the aerodynamics, with a focus placed on optimizing air flow around the coach. That involved the mirrors, front end, rear cap, underbody, and even the engine. The advantages really added up,” Tremblay said. “Everyone can agree, that with the price of fuel today, improving fuel efficiency by 12 percent will greatly provide savings for operators.”
Another aerodynamic advantage with the new H3-45 is less soil dispersion, he added, resulting in better mirror visibility for the driver, and an overall cleaner exterior.
Serviceability is also key, leading to less time needed to make repairs. For ease of maintenance, a front exterior panel has been added to conveniently access and service the wiper and defrost systems, as well as the driver air conditioning unit. In addition, the front junction box, which provides access to the multiplex components, now has an interior door for improved protection and is 70 percent larger.
“No longer will it be required to remove the dash to work on all the items packed under the front windshield, including the defroster, HVAC, and wiper motors,” Tremblay said. “We have already received many positive comments regarding the easy access to this area of the new H3-45.
“Another advantage to this vehicle is that the front bumper is made of three parts. If one section is damaged, the other sections can remain in place.”
Other operator benefits include redesigned and exclusive all-in-one headlamps, and three standardized passenger window and blind sizes, reducing the need to stock excess inventory.
“Those are just a few examples of how operators will reduce their overall costs, while maintaining the new H3-45. We involved our Prevost service team early in the project development phase, with the goal of making it easier to service the vehicle,” Tremblay said. “When it comes to having such amenities as a larger service door, a front access panel and a three-piece front bumper — that all adds to a better total cost of ownership.”
Another important change includes a new LED interior lighting system, involving a cleaning mode to fully illuminate the cabin. It’s designed to improve visibility during interior cleaning and upkeep.
- For drivers, the sleeker profile of the H3-45 produces a smoother ride, and significantly reduces wind noise by nearly 50 percent in the driver area — advances that make driving the coach easier and more comfortable.
A new dashboard also helps. The new H3-45 has more than a dozen advances for drivers, including an intuitive dash that features elegant automotive styling, with a full-color digital and analog instrument cluster and push-button start. On the safety and comfort side, the H3-45 boasts an HVAC system that is 20 percent more powerful, defrosts 37 percent faster than SAE requirements, and is 6 decibels quieter. Overall, due to its updated aerodynamic shape, the H3-45 is nearly 50 percent quieter in the driver area.
“We looked at automotive trends when developing the dashboard. The objective was to create a luxurious driver environment. Functionality was also important, such as installing a new touchscreen with a commercial navigation system, involving a 360-degree backup camara,” Tremblay said. “There is also a new digital analog cluster for better communication and event information, such as informing the driver when a luggage door is open, and if so, which door.”
Changes have been made as well to the H3-45’s steering wheel, involving more adjustment and integrated controls at a driver’s fingertips. There is also a new vehicle sound selector, allowing drivers to play audio and video files for passengers. That can include safety videos often used prior to departure.
Another important factor for drivers is visibility, especially in an urban setting where pedestrian traffic and the emergence of electric scooters make driving more challenging. The new H3-45 features a reduced “A” pillar along the windshield, as well as greater glass curvature, allowing for improved visibility.
“All of those features are designed to improve the overall driving experience, allowing each H3-45 driver to feel that he/she has the most attractive place to work — within the entire industry,” Tremblay said.
- For passengers, the host of amenities and safety features include a redesigned and larger entrance that makes boarding and disembarking smoother and easier — especially for those with limited mobility. The entry stair width has been increased by 7 percent, sharp corners have been smoothed out, there’s 300 percent more lighting and an updated handrail provides a secure grip point.
In addition, a new window layout delivers better sightlines and views for passengers, with fewer window pillars.
“It helps that the new H3-45 offers incredible curb appeal. When boarding, passengers will enjoy a wider entrance, involving a curvature design that provides a much more natural flow,” Tremblay said. “Passengers will also appreciate a greater feeling of openness and brightness when in the cabin. And, with the new design, passengers sitting in aisle seats can stand up without touching the parcel rack. We have redesigned the parcel racks without sacrificing storage.
“We also took the opportunity to use a material called DI-NOC for the ceiling. It’s easy to maintain, clean and has a very appealing look. It helps ‘open’ the coach and make it brighter. The main objective is to make the H3-45 easier and more functional for operators, while providing a better environment for passengers.”
And then there is the seating.
“We worked for two years developing seats with our partner, Amaya-Astron Seating. The objective was to make sure the new seats would fit in very well with the overall vehicle. I feel we have succeeded, as the seats are very modern and comfortable,” Tremblay said. “We worked with experts in ergonomics, which involved clinics and testing. It was important to make sure the seats would be comfortable for people of all body types. There are times when passengers are traveling in our coaches for a week or more. Therefore, a comfortable seat is critical.
“Superior seats also provide a huge visual impact. They help a passenger achieve that ‘wow’ factor, when entering the coach. I feel that has been achieved with the new H3-45.”
The Next 100 Years Starts With The New H3-45
The next generation H3-45 is designated a 2024 model, which means it’s destined to help Prevost celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary in the same year. It’s something that Tremblay said would make company founder, Eugène Prévost, very happy.
A cabinet maker by trade, specializing in the production of church pews and school furniture, Eugene Prevost was commissioned in 1924 to build his first wooden coach body and mount it on a brand-new REO truck chassis, to be used for travel within his community. The rest, as they say, is history.
“That was also the birth of our commitment, at Prevost, to provide quality, reliable and exciting vehicles — all as a direct reflection of Eugène Prévost’s passion. It’s a passion that we have worked hard to keep alive during the last century,” Tremblay said. “The celebration of our big anniversary has come a bit early, with the introduction of the new H3-45.”
In order to reach that point, company representatives spent countless hours in consultation with Prevost service and field team members, asking for their opinions and ideas on how to make the model better.
“We asked, ‘What is working well with the model, and what areas need improvement?’” Tremblay said. “For example, we received critique related to the amount of time it took to defrost the windshield. Therefore, we made sure a new defroster and HVAC system would be included in the next generation H3-45. Defrosting the windshield is now almost 40 percent faster. It’s always important to address problems from the customer perspective.
“We also conducted customer clinics, throughout the development phase, to gain additional feedback. We presented customers with different options, finding out what they liked and didn’t like. Those customers helped us validate some of our new concepts. Both big and small issues were discussed. For example, we included larger cupholders for drivers. Little things like that really helped us improve our overall design of the new H3-45.”
The model, he added, will remain ideal for tour and charter markets, due to its large luggage bay and curb appeal. Line-run and shuttle operations are also good fits.
Looking Ahead With Great Anticipation
Despite transportation challenges of the recent past due to the global pandemic, there are many reasons Tremblay, and his colleagues at Prevost, are optimistic about 2023 and beyond. Not only is the company nearing its 100th anniversary with a new vehicle, but the travel market shows signs of improvement.
“As a coach builder, there are many reasons I feel optimistic. First of all, there is a lot of pent-up demand for travel. I also see the need, among many operators, to purchase new equipment,” Tremblay said. “A lot of older coaches were retired during the pandemic. Getting them ready for the road can be more expensive than the value of those coaches. That has created an additional demand for new vehicles. Also, the current preowned market has pretty much disappeared, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Many operators have also been able to increase their rates, which drives extra revenue.”
To help the industry further develop, officials at Prevost have concentrated on providing added service support and customer training options.
“I believe that is one of our strongest elements, and an important part of our value proposition,” Tremblay said. “Uptime performance, the quality of our equipment and service support on the back end when something goes wrong, are all key elements that we, at Prevost, take very seriously.”
As part of that commitment, Prevost has built a large service network with strategically-placed, OEM-owned service centers and more than 160 service providers throughout North America — dedicated to supporting the H3-45 and entire line of coaches.
“Another big focus involves Prevost’s online and face-to-face training programs. There are a lot of new mechanics in the industry, and they need to be properly trained. There is also a shortage of mechanics, so it’s important to make sure those who enter the industry in the future can also properly maintain equipment,” Tremblay said. “We also will keep helping the industry attract drivers. For example, Prevost sponsors the UMA driver competition. It’s important to acknowledge all the good work of today’s drivers.”
Driver and mechanic training is becoming even more important with the electrification of modern equipment.
“That is a game changer. In the past, the primary tool of a mechanic may have been a wrench. Today, more of a focus is placed on a computer to fix a problem. That is where extra training becomes invaluable,” Tremblay said. “The second aspect is safety. When it comes to working on electric vehicles, mechanics are near high voltage systems. As a manufacturer, it’s our responsibility to make sure proper training is taking place, and supporting the network with proper equipment.”
Parts support is another important area that operators rely on from their OEMs. Later this year, Prevost will introduce a new online parts ordering platform. Users will have added information regarding a specific part’s description, photo, technical specs and pricing.
“The platform will even highlight other parts that a customer has purchased in the past, helping make sure the user has not forgot anything,” Tremblay said. “Different shipping options, and a customer’s credit balance, will also be available online through the platform. Orders placed prior to 2 p.m. will be shipped the same day. For Prevost, it’s all about on-time performance.”
For more information on the all-new H3-45, visit prevostcar.com.