To Ensure Expansion Polaris Building New Facility, Assembly Lines.

Long known for its all terrain vehicles and snowmobiles it’s only 13 years ago that Polaris started building motorcycles, cruisers then touring motorcycles. Still a relatively small player in the overall motorcycle market, Polaris is the second largest manufacturer of heavy weight motorcycles – a 4-billion segment – behind Harley-Davidson. Polaris on-road market is now profitable, rapidly expanding with new models and the addition of the Indian Motorcycle brand now requires the construction of a facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa to open new assembly lines.

The company plans include producing 2013 model-year Indian Motorcycles. A team of engineers and marketing executives has already been created to restore Indian. The marketing strategy seems to be to continue positioning the Victory lineup as performance motorcycle models and the new Indian motorcycles as models for those interested in buying a lifestyle and culture, in direct competition with Harley-Davidson. Polaris CEO Scott Wine clearly states that the new Indian will not be a Victory bike wearing an Indian badge, but a completely new Indian motorcycle. Victory Motorcycles.

Zipper's

42 Responses to “To Ensure Expansion Polaris Building New Facility, Assembly Lines.”


  1. 1 CafeSportyTC Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I have been continually interested on how Polaris was going to handle this situation. to me it seems like it would bee as if Yamaha bought Suzuki, but decided to continue the line. or better yet how General motors for all those years had some many different lines of vehicles that competed against each other but certainly had different appeals to different folks… Im fascinated as to how Polaris will be handling this… thought I’m very confident they will have no problem defining the different bikes from each other.

  2. 2 Robert Pandya Feb 21st, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you, Cyril. One thing that the Polaris Motorcycles team knows is that no matter WHAT we do there will be naysayers. Those who will explode when a motorcycle is revealed and who want only for us to fail. Polaris has made a major commitment to Indian, and I assure you, those who take the time to understand and appreciate the path we have chosen, will not be disappointed.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Daytona Beach – all the best to all of you riders.

    Robert

  3. 3 Knucklehead Feb 21st, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Kinda like Buick and Chevy huh!

  4. 4 Luis Feb 21st, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I hope its great and not a Harley clone like the previous owners did.

  5. 5 Barry Brown Feb 21st, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Please build an Indian 4 . I will buy the first one.

  6. 6 badams Feb 21st, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    This would appear to be an opportunity to showcase “concept” motorcycles much like the Auto OEMS do at Daytona, Sturgis, etc.

    Victory had a couple styling exercises which raised interest, how those concepts migrated into production is undetermined.

    The cruiser segment’s polarity in recent years (chops, bobs, cafes, etc) has yet to yield something innovative and scalable. Last time I can remember was the softail frame in the early 80’s. Then again there is hyper exotic types for those who can afford to fly to the moon like Confederate and Eccose, unfortunaly those are stepped up Ducati Monsters.

    Lets see what Polaris can actually do with Indian, rather than repop the Chief and Scout.

  7. 7 Robert Pandya Feb 21st, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Luis – I assure you all the money in my Mother’s savings account, it will not be a “Harley Clone”.

    Many companies have created stratified brands. Honda (Acura) GM (Cadillac) and more. Watch companies, paper companies, even internet sites. The American consumer knows what they want and they often lead the manufacturer in that direction.

    badams – the companies job is to sell motorcycles – not ideas to look at. There is a significant difference between boutique builders and major oems in that regard. The great thing about our industry is that if a manufacturer does not make what you want, there are many ways to do it yourself or get some help in your vision of the ideal bike. Concept bikes are made often to introduce a design idea that over time may or may not make it into production.

    Unfortunately bikes that break the mold are often covered in the same on the sales floor. How many DN0-1’s or Suzuki B-Kings have you seen at bike nights? It has taken years for the Vision to become more accepted (with many who still hate it) and that was a 20 million dollar project and a huge risk. But that single model drew people’s attention the brand and we often had other motorcycles that DID answer to what they were looking for. Most companies would not sustain that time for a product to start selling.

    Barry – Indian made many engine configurations, and none are out of consideration. Over time I’m sure you will see the diversity in the line reflective of that heritage. Just don’t expect it in the next year!

    Robert Pandya
    Victory Motorcycles – External Relations Manager

  8. 8 Double Duty Feb 21st, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    What I’d really love to see from Polaris, and I really don’t care what badge they put on it (Polaris, Victory, Indian), is a lineup of dual sport and adventure bikes. It annoys me to have to park a KLR650 beside my Harley because I can’t buy an American made bike to take off road. They probably have a perfect engine and most of the tech laying around the factory somewhere to put the bike together.

  9. 9 Mark Moses Feb 21st, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I am relieved and pleased with where Indian is right now and elated about the long term opportunities for the famous brand. At the end of the day, business is about the passion and careful decisions; there are smart strong hands on the bars at Indian today. Thanks to all those folks for their humble commitment to restore our brand to its rightful place in motorcycling.

  10. 10 nicker Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    RE:
    “…Polaris has made a major commitment to Indian …”

    Good…!!!

    RE:
    “…rather than repop the Chief and Scout…”

    Why not faithfully “repop” Indian with new technology tucked under the hood…..???
    The cache of the big v-twins is central to America’s motorcycle heritage.
    How cool would it be re-establishing the old Indian -vs- HD rivalry?

    -nicker-

  11. 11 badams Feb 22nd, 2012 at 2:40 am

    @ Nicker
    my bet is if Polaris built the Indian 4, it would be unobtainable and ignite a whole genre of customs. Looking at the entry level price, these bikes are pricey, so why not put something out that that is unique to Indian? HD needs a conquest brand to require them to innovate beyond bigger cubes and expanded accessory lines.

  12. 12 Iron Horse Feb 22nd, 2012 at 7:17 am

    An Indian 4 would be very cool, but I agree with -nicker- on this one. Do a faithful repop with new technology under the hood.

  13. 13 Zipper Feb 22nd, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Nice to see more choices in American Motorcycles. HD sosdd. ..Z

  14. 14 Oldude Feb 22nd, 2012 at 7:33 am

    We shall see what Polaris can do to make a new start for the Indian brand. Hopefully there will be a new player in the mix of American brands. Please do not make it a Polaris styling look alike. How about something that has subtle class!

  15. 15 Matt Feb 22nd, 2012 at 8:11 am

    In my opinion the original Indian company was always more progressive and performance oriented, not nostalgic. I think a Buell like sport bike with the Indian name would be very fitting addition to the spirit of the brand and it’s racing heritage.

  16. 16 Greg Feb 22nd, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Always good and accurate info from Cyril with Victory participating in the discussion. That’s great. Why Harley execs don’t do same. They read Cyril, too…

  17. 17 Hondo Cat Feb 22nd, 2012 at 8:49 am

    “The marketing strategy seems to be to continue positioning the Victory lineup as performance motorcycle models and the new Indian motorcycles as models for those interested in buying a lifestyle and culture, in direct competition with Harley-Davidson.”

    As of late, Victory has trumped the MoCo with performance, handling, suspension, and storage, e.g. the Victory Cross Country/Roads/Tour models. Some say Victory still has a way to go to catch up with H-D’s style and aesthetic design (at the expense of function), e.g., lowered suspension. I would think this is Polaris Indian’s opportunity to do something in that area as well, i.e., style, lifestyle, and culture. I’m hoping or success for Indian.

  18. 18 cwilliams Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Your spot on Matt, Indian back they were known for innovation not heritage. 1st to release into production 1907 a V-Twin motor(HD 1911), 1st with floorboards, 1st with electric starter, etc… They thought out of the box just as Polaris has done with the Vision. We are entrenched with keeping the heratige of Indian the same, just like HD. HD hasn’t changed in years! They came out with the VROD and most say it isnt a HD. Then complain why isnt HD innovative enough. Change is hard to accept, but in the long run its progress.

  19. 19 deadwood1783 Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Well, if anyone has the stamina to revive the storied Indian marquee, it is Polaris. I hope this endeavor proves to be wildly successfull for them. Mr. Pandya, if I could ask just one thing. Please don’t load us with aggravating teaser ads Victory has been using of late. I do not wish to have to increase my blood pressure meds anymore, lol.

  20. 20 Woody Feb 22nd, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Couldn’t a modern design I4 engine be done in the Indian tradition? BTW Mr. Pandya seems to have his OWN dander up while dishing it out. Don’t like opinions (or don’t care?) then don’t read ’em. Or instead of the thin skin maybe take advantage of a free focus group instead of dismissing folks as idiots. The business model of a big-fendered Harley clone doesn’t work, and we have a decade of proof on that. Glad to hear Polaris has another vision in mind for it and looking forward to seeing it. I’ll also be glad to give an honest opinion afterwards, appreciated or not 😉

  21. 21 Hoyt Feb 22nd, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    @Robert Pandya : “Take the time to understand the path…”

    There are countless people all over the world who are tired of the void of true American performance motorcycles (adventure bike, sport tourer, sport bike, dirt bike), not a 700 pound mass.

    The market is there for all types of buyers that will also consider your already numerous cruisers.

    What is your company afraid of in terms of these types of bikes?

  22. 22 Brett Feb 22nd, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Robert
    My only question is….where do you see this market for people buying $35K motorcycles anymore? That is my fear. I have a Gilroy Chief. Thought about a KM, but that will have to wait for about 5 years until I can get one of those for about $10K like I did the Gilroy. I am very excited to see what Polaris does with Indian, but just hearing the plan is to keep the price where it is now is disheartening. A person could by 2 Roadkings for the price of a Chief Vintage.

    I guess that is the other thing…I am hoping the Chief keeps the look it has. I mean there can be plenty of other Indian models to make design changes to, however, the Chief has been the alternative to a Roadkings since the Indian & HD started. Neither changed their looks much, just the inner workings & better parts to make the bike run.

    I do not see a Chief as a HD Clone because even the current Chiefs still have the look of the classic Chiefs.

  23. 23 nicker Feb 22nd, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    RE:
    “…people all over the world who are tired of the void of true American performance motorcycles…”

    Don’t know way “the world” would be waiting for an American performance bike when there are so many good performance bikes out there already.

    Moreover, the world wide market for nostalgia still seems to work in favor of HD. So what’s the business case for trying to go head to head with the market leaders who already have a head start in that area….???

    Even Triumph recognizes there is a market play for nostalgia and so they offer a vertical twin along with their successful line of road rockets.

    The type of R&D $s it takes to field a Desmo-headed, world killing v-twin is gonna be damned hard to come by in this economy. And if your not going for a world-killer, why bother….???

    HD already tried the performance engineering strategy with the V-rod. A nice scooter that didn’t get them much of a ROI. And how long would a road going XR750 live in civilian hands…???

    Simply don’t think a HD super-sport roadster is in the cards..

    -nicker-

  24. 24 Luis Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    @Robert. Great examples. The B-king was a sweet bike no one seemed to want.

  25. 25 BobS Feb 23rd, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Guys I think the message behind the article is if Polaris just wanted to build a few hundred 35k niche market cruisers they wouldn’t be investing in expanding their motorcycle factory with a whole new assembly line. A company that makes this kind of investment must have plans far beyond what it currently being produced.

  26. 26 Hoyt Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:12 am

    @Nicker

    You’re way off on many points, one of which contradicts itself…”not going for a world beater why bother?” Triumph does make performance bikes that are not world beaters but sell very well: 1. Speed Triple & 2. Street Triple. Neither of them participate in factory-backed racing series on an international scale.

    The VRod is a “performance” bike? Not anywhere close to the performance bike examples I mentioned so why cite that as an example as it makes no logical comparison to support your comments?

    Your last comment, “simply don’t think a HD super-sport roadster is in the cards.” We’re talking about Polaris/Victory, not HD. HD never fully listened to their own employees (Buell) when it came to performance design. Proof: the dramatic difference between the 1125 and the 1190 Buells in a very short period of time since EBR has been started. So, no one can draw any conclusions that an American performance bike cannot sell well based on the HD/Buell history. There was never a 110% effort from the top.

    “….there are so many good performance bikes out there already.” – Ask BMW why they built the 1000RR and then ask them how that model is selling. Also ask them if that has been a world beater
    with their WSB efforts.

    Overall, your comments have a defeatist tone that is missing huge (and a variety of) opportunities. Thankfully not everyone thinks the same way in Ford and Chevrolet because we would never have the Boss Mustang, ‘Vette, and even the GT40. Ducati is relatively tiny, yet they produce some of the best performance bikes available and reap the sales rewards.

  27. 27 Hoyt Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 am

    @Nicker – “Moreover, the world wide market for nostalgia still seems to work in favor of HD. So what’s the business case for trying to go head to head with the market leaders who already have a head start in that area….???”

    Why did Polaris buy Indian, then?

    The same answer applies to performance bikes.

  28. 28 william hill Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    dear god ,,i wish the “VINCENT” could once again grace our manufacturing industry with is sheer beauty and simplicity,, why do we leave such things to history ,, its just not right,,these machines “BELONG”in our lives.

  29. 29 nicker Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    RE:
    “…Why did Polaris buy Indian, then?…”

    Probably because the Indian -vs- HD rivalry is part of the American MC legacy.

    What part of that market have Honda & Kawa managed to grab….???
    BMW’s attempt was pathetic.

    -nicker-

  30. 30 nicker Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Recognizing the reality of the market is simply good business….
    ….. “defeatist”…. ??? …. i don’t see it that way.

    R&D bucks are too thin to start playing in international competition.
    Probably the same reason BMW chose no to play.

    -nicker-

  31. 31 Hoyt Feb 24th, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Nicker – you are badly mistaken again.

    BMW chose not to play? They’ve been competing in WSB racing since 2009 and have been selling the shit out of the 1000RR even though they haven’t had much racing success.

    Victory’s use of “performance” is a joke with their current line up. “Performance” in relation to what?

    Robert – if you guys have one more boring, anti-climatic unveiling of yet another fckin cruiser, you will be digging a hole that all of your credibility to build true performance will be thrown into. The performance consumer will have doubts about your ability to build true performance (even if you ever decide to get off your ass and build a sport bike or dirt bike) due to your continued cruiser line-up. Sound familiar?

    The worst part about that? Polaris does have a performance angle with sleds. Victory didn’t have to be known solely for 700 lb bikes like HD.

    Indian would have been better off with Eller Industries. They at least intended to revive ALL of Indian’s history by including a sport bike model in an attempt to capture their racing heritage . I’d be glad to be Proven wrong.

  32. 32 BobS Feb 24th, 2012 at 8:44 am

    So we’ll put Hoyt down as “undecided”. Lol.

  33. 33 Jason Hallman Feb 24th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t think I will ever be able to understand the line of reasoning behind Indian being purchased by Polaris. I am a “Polaris or die” snowmobiler (we own several) but with all the capable engineers and designers at Polaris, why divert resources to a brand that has failed over and over again when Victory is not really a threat to Harley yet? My guess is that a focus group had something to do with the decision, and while I wont (or can’t reasonably) doom them to fail…I don’t see them succeeding with this endeavor in this economy. Indian wasn’t always a niche brand but I fear that it will be in the future. Victory riders are fiercely loyal and Victory motorcycles are great bikes but there is almost no aftermarket and if you are going to steal a Harley customer away there has to be a way (or at least a perceived way) to modify your bike in your garage. Harley has never strayed from that idea or at least that perception. And by aftermarket I don’t mean dropping off a Victory motorcycle off at Roland Sands, Zach Ness’ and Cory and Arlen Ness’ shops so they can do $15,000 worth of upgrades on them. There needs to be ample parts suppliers with ample access to factory specs and models to support the home customizer if Victory is to have any shot at an average HD customer. You would think they would have properly addressed this before creating an entirely new company to compete with the fledgling one they already have. If there is to be a down fall for Victory I will surmise that it will Indian that steals that sunshine.

  34. 34 hoyt Feb 24th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    BobS –

    good one, but honestly, I’m still undecided as I think Victory makes a great product and has the potential to diversify into more great products. So, I’m waiting for the performance engineers to get a chance.

    However, Victory is very close to suffering the dilemma HD cornered themselves into: the inability to have sales success with anything but nostalgic, heavy-weight cruisers. There is no doubt consumers would hesitate on a hypothetical HD performance bike even if it had top merits paralleling Ducati. This was before the Buell shutdown.

    The frustrating part is that HD inflicted that non-diverse line-up of cruisers over decades, whereas, Victory doesn’t have that baggage which casts doubt. Most importantly, Polaris has performance that Victory can use in their manufacture & marketing of sport bikes, dirt bikes, etc. Check out their 417 lb. sled:

    http://www.polarisindustries.com/en-us/snowmobiles/2013-preview/deep-snow/800-pro-rmk-155/pages/introduction.aspx

  35. 35 BobS Feb 24th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    hoyt, while I agree that it would be cool to see Victory have a line up more like BMW and Triumph, I also know that I’m probably not buying a sport, dirt, or dual sport, I’m a cruiser guy. But speaking as a Victory owner I think they have a VERY long way to go before they box themselves into a cruiser only company ala H-D. I could maybe see Indian getting boxed in, but not Victory. Of all the Victory owners I ride with, pretty much all don’t care about supposed legacy. Air cooled, water cooled, air/oil, v-twin or other doesn’t matter. We just care that it looks good, goes fast, and is comfortable. Not necessarily in that order.
    Jason Hallman, if you think there’s no aftermarket for Victory I think maybe you haven’t looked very hard. I could probably come up with a list of thirty vendors manufacturing for Victory without even mentioning Ness or Sands. And I’m not talking cheap import stuff out of a catalog, I’m talking high quality made in USA stuff. But yes, it is a little harder to find. I suspect as soon as Indian production is up in the thousands of units a year (as opposed to hundreds now) you’ll see more aftermarket there too. Now for sure I’m not talking Harley level of aftermarket, but NOTHING, including Honda and BMW has that kind of aftermarket. Which I think also proves while aftermarket is important to some, it’s not that high a priority for many riders. Otherwise companies like Honda, BMW, Triumph wouldn’t be selling like they are.

  36. 36 Hoyt Feb 25th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    BobS –

    “Of all the Victory owners I ride with, pretty much all don’t care about supposed legacy. Air cooled, water cooled, air/oil, v-twin or other doesn’t matter. We just care that it looks good, goes fast,…”

    True, but I’m referring to the hundreds of thousands of buyers that are ready to purchase a sport bike or dirt bike from Asia or Europe, not existing Victory riders. I.e. the huge market to help Victory grow.

    BMW’s performance-oriented car division definitely helped the sales of the 1000RR sport bike because their motorcycle line-up leading up to the 1000RR would not have suggested they could build a sport bike on par with Japan; at least not without a huge & expensive marketing effort backed up by a superior product.

    I think Polaris’ performance sleds are indicative of their engineering ability, but with every new cruiser model introduced, the typical Euro/Asia buyer will be harder to convince.

    Robert mentioned the $20 million Vision model. I am positive the designers in this country could do better with a sport bike. The aesthetics of a full touring bike are more difficult than a smaller package.

  37. 37 Hoyt Feb 25th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    “BMW’s performance-oriented car division definitely helped the sales of the 1000RR sport bike because …”

    Clarifying:
    Assume BMW did not have their car division & it’s performance reputation when they built the 1000RR sport bike and the consumer only had BMW’s boxer twins and touring bikes as a point of reference. That scenario would have made it more difficult to get the buyer of an R1 to change their mind and buy the 1000RR.

  38. 38 Jason Hallman Feb 25th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    BobS: Certainly there is aftermarket stuff out there. What I was trying to say more specifically is that the concept of customization should start at the top and trickle down. Send some Victory and indian models to some talented smaller builders that dont have unlimited budgets and CNC machines to cut beautiful parts. Someone like Pat Patterson from Led Sleds or Eric Gorges from Voodoo Choppers. I would never knock Roland or the Ness family for using their talents and their resources. They have earned the right to have those models land at their doors but until Victory can prduce a catalog that rivals the one that HD publishes annually I dont believe that most Victory owners feel like HD owners do.

  39. 39 kc cheef Feb 26th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Good luck to Polaris.
    Sad thing is they seem to already be heading in a strange direction.
    First Indians off the Polaris line was a Kings Mountain version.
    Kings Mountain version was a warmed over Gilroy.
    Support and service for the Kings Mountain bikes even at this time is horrible.
    Hey Robert.
    I can hook you up with a Kings Mountain rider who is less than satisfied with the support he is receiving on his KM bike.
    Polaris bought the KM version of Indian–time to step up and support the folks riding them.

  40. 40 Hammer Feb 27th, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Those of us that own Indians, real Indians (I have a 1946 and a 1938) look at Kiwi as the only company out there that keeps Indian alive. Polaris has the name, legally I presume, but they will never have the legacy which they need if they intend to capitalize on the history of the once magnificent machine. Polaris can only produce a line of motorcycles with the name Indian on the side, and hope it sells, but without the legacy, they might as well have named it a Cowboy, because what makes Indian so great is its past, not the ownership of the name, which right now means nothing. Too many false starts, corrupt individuals and god-awful bikes have made any “Indian” built after 1953 a joke. There will never, ever, be a tie in with the Polaris Indian and the original Indian. The question is how long will Polaris hold on to the name before selling it? I’m sure their intent is good, but the reality of trying to produce a legacy line of Indians is beyond anyone’s grasp right now. The name has been destroyed. Indian Manufacturing Company, 1901-1953. Anything from this point forward is a mockery.

  41. 41 Jason Hallman Feb 27th, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Hammer pretty much summed it up.

  42. 42 kc cheef Feb 28th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Agreed with Hammer.
    Modern day Indians are a TRIBUTE to the old ones at best.
    Interesting that Kings Mountain AND Polaris want to claim a lineage to Springfield but at the same time neither will acknowledge the bikes built in Gilroy with any more than a short mention.
    And yes Hammer it will be intersting to see how long Polaris holds the name before they sell.
    The Steve’s in Kings Mountain professed a passion for reviving the brand.That passion seemed to have lasted until they found a buyer to get it shuffled off to.
    That shuffle off to another buyer hurt a lot of people just like Gilroy folding up did.
    Lot of folks spent a lot of money creating dealerships and believing promises.
    Lot of folks got boned in the end.
    It is intriguing to kind of take a look at how some dealerships from Kings Mountain seemed to have benefited and some got totally ruined by the latest sale.
    How many times do these owners of the name Indian expect riders to fall for the old in good hands–passion for the brand–blah blah before they figure folks will catch on?

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