New Flyer Industries - History


Flyer was founded by John Coval in 1930 as the Western Auto and Truck Body Works Ltd. Reflecting an increased focus on bus manufacturing, it changed its name in 1948 to Western Flyer Coach.

In the 1960s, the company further focused on the urban transit bus market. In 1971, the then-financially struggling Western Flyer was sold to the Manitoba Development Corporation, an agency of the Manitoba government, and renamed Flyer Industries Limited.

On July 15, 1986, Jan den Oudsten, a descendant of the family who created the Dutch company Den Oudsten Bussen BV, purchased Flyer Industries from the Manitoba government, changing its name to New Flyer Industries Limited. Den Oudsten Bussen B.V was a bus manufacturer in its native country, the Netherlands.

New Flyer subsequently introduced North America's first low-floor bus, delivering the D40LF to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1991. Also in 1995, the first ever North American low-floor articulated bus was introduced to Strathcona County Transit of Sherwood Park, Alberta. In 2001, the delivery of 6,300 low-floor buses represented close to half of the North American fleet, confirming New Flyer as the dominant player in the transit bus manufacturing industry in North America, a role previously held by the now defunct Flxible.

In March 2002, New Flyer was acquired by KPS Special Situations Fund in New York. Also in the same year, Mr. den Oudsten retired as CEO of New Flyer Industries Ltd. and has recently been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Public Transportation Association.

In 2003, King County Metro of Seattle, WA placed an order for 213 hybrid buses, the largest ever for hybrid buses up to that time. This record was broken when MTA New York ordered 825 Hybrid buses of a different company that same year (despite they ordered between 2004-2007). On December 15 of the same year, New Flyer announced that Harvest Partners, Inc., a New York-based private equity firm, had entered into definitive agreements to acquire New Flyer Industries Limited, from KPS Special Situations Fund. Lightyear Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, joined Harvest as a co-investor in the transaction. John Marinucci, CEO of New Flyer, said, "This is exciting news for New Flyer" And he went on to say that KPS specializes in turning around struggling businesses and that they typically do not hold assets after the turnaround has been accomplished. And that ever since the KPS purchase, New Flyer had achieved excellent operational and financial performance. He especially praised the employees.

2005 saw the introduction of optional redesigned front and rear endcaps for their buses. The new endcaps are an attempt to modernize and streamline the look of their fleet, which is more or less a box on wheels. Also, a new "R" suffix was applied on all units produced with the new endcaps. The redesigned endcaps made their debut with the 2005 E40LFR built for the Vancouver trolleybus system.

Between 2005 and the end of 2009, New Flyer supplied a total of 262 low-floor trolleybuses to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (now known as TransLink), of which 74 were articulated (model E60LFR). The original order, placed in late 2003, was for 188 E40LFR units and 40 E60LFR units. The first E40LFR was delivered in July 2005, and the rest of the 40-foot (12 m) units were delivered between August 2006 and September 2007. The first articulated, E60LFR trolleybus arrived in Vancouver in January 2007. TransLink decided to order an additional 34 articulated units, making the total 74, and delivery of the 73 production-series E60LFR units took place between October 2007 and autumn 2009.

Another purchaser of trolleybuses from New Flyer was SEPTA, operator of the Philadelphia trolleybus system. That agency placed an order with New Flyer in February 2006 for 38 E40LFR "trackless trolleys", as trolleybuses are known there. The first vehicle was delivered in June 2007, and the remaining 37 were received by SEPTA during 2008.

In October 2008, New Flyer Industries Canada ULC was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, New Flyer was also named one of Manitoba's Top Employers, which was announced by the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper.

In May 2012, New Flyer and Alexander Dennis Limited announced a new joint-venture to design and manufacture medium-duty low-floor bus (or midi bus) for the North American market. New Flyer will handle production and marketing, and Alexander Dennis will handle the engineering and testing.

In June 2012, New Flyer Industries with a joint effort of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Manitoba Government, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College unveiled a fully electric battery-powered bus.

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