Girardin Minibus Inc. is a Canadian bus manufacturer. Based in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada, Girardin forms part of the Micro Bird joint venture with Blue Bird Corporation. As part of Micro Bird, Girardin is a manufacturer of bus bodies for minibuses for cutaway van chassis.
While many Micro Bird buses are produced as school buses and related student transport vehicles, Girardin also produces commercial-use buses using cutaway van chassis. In Canada, the company serves as the nationwide distributor of the Blue Bird school bus and commercial bus product line.
Girardin traces its roots to 1935, when company founder Lionel Girardin opened a used-car dealership and repair shop in , Quebec. He expanded into new-car sales in 1953 by opening a Chrysler dealership. In 1958, Girardin entered the school bus market by becoming a school bus dealership.
In 1965, Girardin opened a bus dealership in Drummondville, Quebec; along with bus sales, Girardin converted vans into minibuses (some of the first Type A school buses). In 1981, a dedicated factory was built to keep up with demand; the factory was expanded in 1991 and again in 2000.
In 1991, Girardin Minibus introduced the MB-II and MB-IV school buses; from 1992 to 1999, these were distributed throughout North America using the Blue Bird by Girardin name. In 2005, the MB-IV was replaced with the G5, a redesigned dual rear-wheel Type A school bus.
In 2009, Blue Bird Corporation entered into a joint venture with Girardin to produce Type A school buses. Under the terms of the joint venture, Blue Bird's Micro Bird (in production since 1975) was phased out and replaced by Girardin-designed products built in Drummondville.
Girardin Minibus has twice entered into partnerships with a larger bus manufacturer; both have been with American manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation.
Blue Bird MB-II/MB-IV by Girardin (1992–1999)
From 1992 to 1999, Girardin and Blue Bird were in a partnership to sell the MB-II and MB-IV Type A school buses in North America. At the time, Girardin was little known outside of Quebec and Blue Bird's own Micro Bird was not available in the single rear-wheel configuration that the MB-II offered. After 1999, Girardin chose to market the MB school buses under its own brand name.
Micro Bird, Inc. (2009–present)
In October 2009, Girardin re-entered into a joint venture with Blue Bird. This partnership, named Micro Bird, Inc, resulted in the Micro Bird model being discontinued, as Type A school bus construction was transferred from Blue Bird's Georgia facility to Girardin's Drummondville facility. Type A school buses built by Girardin are now branded as Blue Bird Micro Bird by Girardin.
The first bus manufacturer in North America to develop a body for the Ford Transit cutaway cab chassis, Micro Bird introduced the T-Series model line in 2015, slotted between the MB-II and G5. While the Transit replaced the E-series as a passenger van, the T-Series marked the introduction of a third model line, produced with a choice of axle configurations on a single body for the first time.
|Girardin/Micro Bird Product lineup|
|Model Name||G5 (Micro Bird DRW)||MB-II (Micro Bird SRW)||T-Series (Micro Bird Transit)||MB-IV|
|Body Configuration||Dual rear wheels||Single rear wheels||
||Dual rear wheels|
|Production||2005-present||1991-present (see notes)||2015-present||1991-2004|
|Maximum Seating Capacity||
||25 (school bus/MFSAB)|
- Blue Bird Corporation - distributor of Girardin products in United States; Girardin is distributor of Blue Birds in Canada.
- Cutaway van chassis
- Les Enterprises Michel Corbeil - former Canadian competing manufacturer of small school buses
- "HISTORY". Archived from the original on 2010-07-09. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Press Releases/BLUE BIRD AND GIRARDIN ANNOUNCE JOINT VENTURE(2009-10-19)". Archived from the original on 2010-07-24. Retrieved 2010-01-23.