General Motors Diesel Division
General Motors Diesel Division (GMDD) was the Canadian heavy equipment manufacturing branch of automobile maker General Motors Corporation. Among other products, they were responsible for the Canadian manufacturing of GM's Transit Buses and many of the locomotives bought by Canadian railroads.
In 1950, in an attempt to circumnavigate the duties charged on their locomotives, GM opened an assembly plant in London, Ontario for the manufacturing of railway locomotives and equipment for both Canadian railroads and overseas markets. From the outset, the plant was designed primarily for assembly of a variety of components shipped from either EMD's operations in the U.S., or a variety of subcontractors in Canada.
In 1959, GM introduced the "New Look" transit bus, which was adopted by many transit agencies across North America, with thousands eventually manufactured. The streamlined design was imitated by other manufacturers such as Flxible and Flyer (later New Flyer Industries), and became an iconic design for many years to come.
Starting in 1961, New Look bus assembly for Canadian transit agencies was performed in the GMDD Heavy Equipment building in London until being moved to a new factory in St-Eustache, Quebec, in 1979. The last US-built New Look was assembled in 1977; however, production continued at GMDD in Quebec until 1986.
In 1977, GMC, GMDD's American counterpart, introduced the Rapid Transit Series (RTS) bus. GMDD considered manufacturing the RTS for the Canadian market, but decided not to when Canadian transit agencies stated their dislike of the RTS's design. As a result, GMDD continued to manufacture New Looks for the Canadian market, as well as for a few American agencies after GMC ceased producing the New Look upon introduction of the RTS.
In 1982, GMDD introduced the Classic, a modernized, updated version of the New Look. The design was met with positive reactions from transit agencies in Canada, as well as the U.S., where several agencies ordered Classics instead of RTS's.
As the 1980's continued, GMDD saw increasing competition from manufacturers such as the then Ontario-government owned Orion, and Winnipeg-based New Flyer Industries, which were popular in their home provinces. GMDD's buses remained popular in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, however.
In 1987, GMDD's transit bus operations were sold to Motor Coach Industries, who continued manufacture of the Classic until 1993, introducing an articulated version of the Classic that was only ever purchased by two transit agencies due to the purchase of MCI's transit bus division by NovaBus, a company founded by employees of the St-Eustache assembly plant.
NovaBus discontinued production of the articulated Classic (after completing an order of them from Halifax), focusing solely on producing the 40-foot version until they introduced the LFS (Low Floor Series) bus in 1995. Following this, orders for the Classic dropped, and NovaBus ceased production of the Classic in 1997, after completing an order for Auger Metropolitain in Châteauguay, Quebec.
NovaBus still uses the St-Eustache assembly plant that was first opened by GMDD 39 years ago.
In 2003, GM Defense (which was housed in the former Heavy Equipment building at EMD London) was sold to General Dynamics Land Systems, who continue to use the property.
April 4, 2005 GM announced that it had sold all of the assets of EMD and GMDD to Greenbriar Equity LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC. The new corporation is now known as Electro-Motive Diesel.