How Bombardier’s original innovation, the Ski-Doo, was invented

The strange and winding history of the snowmobile that made Bombardier

In Philip Preville’s feature today on the Spyder—a three-wheeled motorcycle BRP is hoping to sell to the growing legions of boomers hankering for the open road—he briefly recounts the decision to spin Bombardier Recreational Products off from its corporate parent:

When Bombardier Inc. spun off its recreational products division in 2003, the rationale was to separate the industrial conglomerate’s consumer-driven powersports products—Ski-Doos, Sea-Doos and ATVs, as well as Rotax and Evinrude engines—from its larger-scale, institutionally driven manufacturing in aerospace and public transportation (planes and trains). It has proven to be a smart move. Unlike its parent company, which can’t seem to get planes finished, let alone sold, BRP—Bombardier Recreational Products—has been on a hot streak of late. Its total revenues have increased more than 65% in five years, from $2.1 billion in 2011 to $3.5 billion in 2015. The company went public in 2013, and its IPO was one of that year’s best: BRP stock, which happens to sport the ticker’s coolest symbol (TSX: DOO), launched in May 2013 at $21.50 per share and rose 40% in the next 12 months to $29.97.

The Ski-Doo, of course, was Bombardier’s first product, the one that started it all. Here’s our timeline recounting how this curious, and remarkably successful, product came to market in the first place: