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Canada’s Prevost Car has been making intercity buses since 1924, but its business supplying bus shells for conversion into highline motorcoaches is helping keep the company alive, according to the Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen.
Prevost is owned by Volvo Bus Corp. of Sweden and Henly’s Group PLC of Britain, and the Ste. Claire, Quebec-based company expects to produce a total of 500 units this year, of which about 65% will be sold for conversion into motorhomes. In comparison, in 1999, Prevost built 1,000 units and about half went to bus converters.
The company’s sales revenue is anticipated to reach $500 million (Canadian) this year, including service and parts revenue. (One Canadian dollar now is equivalent to 70.9 cents in U.S. currency.)
The slowdown had led to more than 500 layoffs at Prevost’s sprawling assembly plant located southeast of Quebec City, and at its supplier plant in nearby St. Anselme.
But Prevost has, since the late 1970s, been the No. 1 manufacturer of unfurnished coaches for conversion into luxury motorhomes and specialty coaches, and it has remained profitable thanks to that business, where it holds a 95% market share, the newspaper reported.
A loyal owners club is one of the reasons behind Prevost’s success. Recently, about 160 Prevost owners gathered near the company’s plant for a convention organized by the owners’ association, the Prevost Prouds.
Purchasers of the motorhomes, or Prevosts – as they are universally known – are entertainers, sports stars, business owners, and anyone else who can afford to pony up $750,000 to $1.6 million (U.S.) to own the Rolls-Royce of RVs.
The vehicles also can be used as mobile command centers or for corporate public relations.
Prevost supplies the unfurnished vehicles to about 15 companies around North America that specialize in converting the vehicles into land yachts for affluent customers.
The converters load an array of luxuries onto 40- or 45-foot Prevosts ,including such items as plasma-screen televisions, marble floors, hot tubs and solid-gold bathroom fixtures. Optional factory-installed slideout compartments provide extra space in the living room and the bedroom.
Among famous Prevost owners are country singer Garth Brooks, race-car driver Michael Andretti, pro golfer Davis Love III and U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.