The announcement on April 19th, 2011 of Polaris Industries buying Indian Motorcycle Limited from the UK based Stellican private equity firm was quite a surprise for many of you. Since then, speculation was high regarding 1- what would happen to the Indian’s plant employees in Kings Mountain, NC 2- what would happen to the exclusive Indian Dealers. 3- What market strategy Polaris would use for its new Indian division. 4- When Polaris would be able to start production of brand new Indians. 5- How the 2012 Indian models, if any, and years beyond would look like. 6- In what range of prices, etc… Here are a few facts I was able to collect.
No official word to know for sure if the NC Indian employees are offered to move with the machinery to the new Polaris/Indian Spirit Lake factory in Iowa. When in 2008 Indian Motorcycle started production, its dealers signed a 5-year agreement of exclusive representation, so expiring in 2013. Although all these Indian dealers welcomed the purchase of Indian by Polaris Industries, they were all extremely concerned in knowing if they will have any bikes to sell in their dealerships for model years 2012 and 2013 (they all seem to have still a few 2010 or at least 2011 models on the show floor.)
It takes a lot of time to re-engineer any existing model like the Indian Chief and a minimum of couple of years to engineer a brand new one. Reverse engineering is the first task and already got started one month ago. I am able to disclose that during the next few days Polaris is going to announce to its dealers that 1- no production is going to continue for the 2011 models, 2- that 2012 Indian models will be available and introduced at the Indian National Dealers Meeting in July in Tennessee (probably the same Indian Chief with slight modifications and new options, maybe at a lower price than 2011 models) 3- that the brand new 2013 year Indian model(s) 100% engineered and manufactured by Polaris will be introduced during summer 2012. Polaris dealers will be able to sell Indians if they choose to and don’t violate state laws regarding minimum distance required between competing dealers representing the same brand. But situation is less clear regarding Indian dealers who would wish to sell Polaris products. At this point, Polaris says no. Is their agreement of exclusive representation of the Indian brand still enforceable? And even if it was not, it is easy to imagine why Polaris Industries refuse to sell any Polaris products to a competitor of their own dealer network… for now. To follow.