Bombardier Inc. (bɔ̃baʁdje) is a Canadian conglomerate, founded by Joseph-Armand Bombardier as L'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée in 1942, at Valcourt in the Eastern Townships, Quebec. Over the years it has been a large manufacturer of regional aircraft, business jets, mass transportation equipment, recreational equipment and a financial services provider. Bombardier is a Fortune Global 500 conglomerate company. Its headquarters are in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Bombardier are the current main sponsors of Derby County FC.
Joseph-Armand Bombardier was a mechanic who dreamt of building a vehicle that could "float on snow." In 1937, he designed and produced his first snowmobile in his small repair shop in Valcourt, Quebec.
Bombardier's technological breakthrough in the design of bush vehicles came in the mid-1930s when he developed a drive system that revolutionized travel in snow and swampy conditions. In 1937, Bombardier sold 12 snowmobiles—named the B7 and, in 1942, created l'Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée company.
The first snowmobiles were large, multi-passenger vehicles designed to help people get around during the long winter months. Snowmobiles were used in rural Quebec to take children to school, carry freight, deliver mail, and as ambulances. His invention filled a very particular need in the region and soon business was booming. In 1941, Armand opened a large new factory in Valcourt. Then a major setback hit the growing business: the Second World War was well underway and the Canadian government issued wartime rationing regulations. Bombardier customers had to prove that snowmobiles were essential to their livelihood in order to buy one. To keep his business going, Armand switched gears and developed vehicles for the military. After the war, Bombardier experienced another setback in his snowmobile business. In 1948, the Quebec government passed a law requiring all highways and local roads to be cleared of snow; Bombardier company's sales fell by nearly half in one year. Armand Bombardier therefore decided to diversify his business, first by producing tracked snow-plows sized specifically for use on municipal sidewalks, then by making all-terrain vehicles for the mining, oil and forestry industries.
Of note, the machines had removable front skis that could be replaced with front wheels for use on paved or hard surfaces thus providing greater utility to his large snowmobiles. Production of these machines evolved over time. During 1951, the wooden bodies were replaced with sheet steel and these vehicles were powered by Chrysler flat head six cylinder engines and 3 speed standard transmissions. In the 1960s, V-8 engines began to appear and during the 1969/70 production years, the standard round "porthole"-style windows were replaced with larger rectangular windows which allowed more interior light and made them less claustrophobic feeling. Following these changes came the switchover to more reliable Chrysler Industrial 318 engines with the automatic Loadflite transmissions. Production of these machines continued into the mid-1970s.
Bombardier dreamed of developing a fast, lightweight snowmobile that could carry one or two people. In the early 1950s, Armand set aside his dream to focus on developing his company's other tracked vehicles. But by the end of the decade, smaller, more efficient engines had been developed and were starting to come on the market. Bombardier resumed his efforts to build a "miniature" snowmobile. He worked alongside his eldest son Germain, who shared his father's mechanical talents. Armand and Germain developed several prototypes of the lightweight snowmobile and finally, the first Bombardier snowmobile went on sale in 1959.
The Ski-doo was originally called the "Ski-Dog" because Bombardier meant it to be a practical vehicle to replace the dogsled for hunters and trappers. By an accident, a painter misinterpreted the name and painted "Ski-Doo" on the first prototype. The public soon discovered that speedy vehicles that can zoom over snow were a lot of fun. Suddenly a new winter sport was born, centred in Quebec. In the first year, Bombardier sold 225 Ski-Doos; four years later, 8,210 were sold. But Armand was reluctant to focus too much on the Ski-Doo and move resources away from his all-terrain vehicles. He vividly remembered his earlier business setbacks that forced him to diversify. Armand slowed down promotion of the Ski-Doo line to prevent it from dominating the other company products but still dominate the entire snowmobile industry. The snowmobiles produced were of exceptional quality and performance, earning a better reputation than the rival Polaris and Arctic Cat brand of motosleds. In 1975 Bombardier completed the purchase of the Moto-Ski company.
On February 18, 1964, J. Armand Bombardier died of cancer at age 56. He left behind a thriving business, but also one that had been focused on one person. Armand dominated his company, overseeing all areas of operation. He controlled the small research department, making all the drawings himself. By the time of his death sales of the company had reached C$20 million, which is the equivalent of C$160 million in 2004 dollars. The younger generation took over, led by Armand's sons and sons-in-law. The young team reorganized and decentralized the company, adopting modern business tactics. The company adopted the latest technological innovation—the computer—to handle inventory, accounts and billing. Distribution networks were improved and increased, and an incentive program was developed for sales staff.
Great Britain also has reservations against the proposal due to a long standing contract for 1/3 of the aircraft, specifically the wings, to be built in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In 2001, Bombardier acquired Adtranz, the developer of the Class 170 Turbostar and Class 357/375/376/377 Electrostar trains which are widely used throughout Britain. They also built the Nottingham Express Transit trams and parts of Alstom's Eurostar trains. In the UK, ADtranz's major facility was located in Derby. Other major areas of activity of ADtranz were Germany, Sweden and Switzerland with major facilities in Hennigsdorf and Kassel (Germany), Västerås and Kalmar (Sweden), and Zürich and Turgi (Switzerland).
Bombardier was one of the companies which took over British Rail's R&D facilities after privatisation (the remainder largely being absorbed into AEA Technology and Alstom). They were part of a major consortium in the construction of the Eurotunnel railway cars, and also built new subway trains for a wide range of customers including the Toronto Transit Commission, the Commission de transport de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal, and the New York City Transit Authority (R62A, R142), noted for designing the Las Vegas Monorail system.
Bombardier is a UK Notified Body, under The Railways (Interoperability) (Notified Bodies) Regulations 2000, in one TSI area: rolling stock.
Bombardier Transportation also leads the development and production of the Acela Express train in a 75%–25% arrangement with Alstom. The train runs between Boston, Massachusetts, New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. Bombardier provided carbody design and tilting mechanisms from its LRC ("Light Rapid Comfortable") line of passenger trainsets, and integrated a variant of Alstom's TGV propulsion system. This is the first high-speed rail line in North America, running at a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph). To meet U.S. government "Buy American" regulations, final assembly of these trains was carried out at Bombardier's U.S. rail car assembly facility in Barre, Vermont. Bombardier also provided seller-arranged financing to allow Amtrak to lease the trainsets rather than purchase them outright as the railroad had previously done.
Bombardier has also entered into the Australian rail industry with the implementation and maintenance of the main electric propulsion systems for numerous passenger trains and locomotive fleets, and the manufacture of new rolling stock in partnership with EDI Rail. These include Queensland Rail's IMU160, SMU260, IMU200 and SMU220 trainsets, and V/Line's VLocity DMUs in Victoria. There are also Bombardier trains in Perth, Western Australia. These electric trains are powered through overhead catenary.
With the acquisition of ADtranz in 2001, Bombardier Transportation emerged as the largest manufacturer of railway rolling stock in the world. Depending on how one defines industrial activities, it is sometimes considered the largest in the world in this category.
On 27 August 2003 - Bombardier, Inc. announced the sale of their Recreation Products unit to the Bombardier family for $875 million. As part of the deal, BRP retained rights to the sprocket logo, which they subsequently modified. Their snowcats and snowmobiles dated back to the origins of the company; current brands are Ski-Doo and Lynx. Bombardier Recreational Products has also become well known for their Sea-Doo personal water craft division. Bombardier also makes ATVs (all terrain vehicles). In 2006, the ATV brand name changed from Bombardier ATV to Can-Am. Can-Am is the old name of the line of dirt bikes it made in the 1980s. Their current product is the Can-Am Spyder.
The Bombardier Museum is a large modern museum in Valcourt, Quebec dedicated to the life of Joseph-Armand Bombardier and the snowmobile as well as the industry he helped create. Formally opened in 1971, with substantial renovations in 1990, the museum is professionally curated and features a wide array of Ski-Doos and other industrial designs as well as a selection of related books, booklets and other items of interest to enthusiasts.
Also of note at the museum is the original Bombardier garage "factory" that was the genesis of the organization bearing the name. The garage was carefully removed from its original location in Valcourt and moved to its present site at the museum, which is located blocks away from the huge, present-day Bombardier Recreational Products factory.