Collins Bus Corp. has launched a complete redesign of its Type A bus with added visibility and enhanced construction.

Company officials said that the new bus, unveiled at a recent dealer meeting, represents a culmination of several years of research and development based on input from a wide range of customers, dealers and employees.

Marketed under the model designator NEXBUS, it will be offered throughout North America under all three Collins Bus Corp. brands: Collins, Mid Bus and Corbeil.

“We’re extremely proud of the effort put forward by the whole team to bring out this latest design," said Kent Tyler, president of Collins Bus Corp. "Through our 'Voice of the Customer' initiative, we asked for recommendations from customers large and small, from mechanics to drivers, and from numerous experts in the industry. All that effort has given us a new Type A product that will enable us to further grow our position as the leader in the market."

Tyler added that the NEXBUS design is "further reinforcement of our unwavering commitment to safety and quality.”

The first NEXBUS is slated to roll off of the production line at Collins in mid-April. Company officials said that new features include a unique battery and storage drawer, over 30% added visibility through the view-out window in the transition section, superior construction and larger passenger windows.

The new design underwent durability testing that simulated seven years/200,000 miles of use at the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pa. Collins officials said that while not required in the school bus market, the test results indicate "superior durability for the NEXBUS design."

As recently announced, the new buses will come standard with SafeGuard XChange seating systems.

Bryce Pfister, vice president of operations at Collins, noted that a large number of changes are focused on the manufacturing process.

“Lean manufacturing initiatives have revolutionized our production facility and the way our employees approach the tasks of building our bus," he said. "This new design allows us to make even more improvements in our manufacturing methods and enables us to continue increasing our quality.”

Company officials said that the new bus, shown in two prototype versions (high-top and low-top models), was well received at the recent dealer meeting. Nearly every dealer representing Collins, Mid Bus or Corbeil was at the meeting.

“The response to the new design was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic,” said John Doswell, vice president of sales and marketing. “Most of our dealers have been to the plant, seen the tremendous improvements in our quality over the last five years, and understand how we are using Lean manufacturing principles to give them a superior product. They are all excited to get their hands on this latest design.”