With online and social media fueling the conversation in the entire motorcycle world, the new Indian Motorcycle’s future is surely the most discussed topic of 2013. Although the brand new 2014 Chief model will not be unveiled until Sturgis Bike Week (August 3rd to 11th), your online comments in my daily magazine, Facebook and Twitter pages show that the teaser launch campaign has been extremely successful: unveiling of engine sound, features and pictures, then of Chief’s silhouette and price have all been exciting news for Indian’s fans and turned most remaining skeptics into supporters. Barring a major disappointment at unveiling, something highly improbable, I can now say that the Indian Motorcycle brand was already re-born when Polaris bought it 2 years ago. But what does its future look like?
Recently, Steve Menneto, Vice President Of Motorcycles at Polaris Industries stated that to break even, the company just needs to capture 4 to 5% of the US heavy weight cruiser market (primary competitor Harley-Davidson is the leader in the US with a 57% market share.) Menneto didn’t mention how long he thinks it would take, but it is reasonable to think, as I do, that Indian Motorcycle’s objective could be reached in the US in 2 to 3 years or maybe less…
Although the main focus of this summer’s Indian launch is the US, let’s not forget that Polaris’ expansion strategy is international. Indian is a new immediately available asset for Polaris to sell more of its heavy weight motorcycles around the world. These 4 to 5% in the US could lead very fast to many more Indians sold in several countries. I don’t know of any new or of “re-born” motorcycle brands ever launched domestically and abroad simultaneously or close to it. Polaris is in the unique position to be able to do both with Indian in one year or less. Not only because of Indian’s international brand appeal, but also because Polaris being the global leader in off-road/adventure vehicles, has already in place an international structure that could be used, if necessary, to sell Indian motorcycles in foreign markets. Unnoticed by many, including members of the press, there is an Indian Motorcycle official web page (just look at the screenshot above) where Indian says it clear: “We Are Coming… in Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, India, China, etc…
All legendary motorcycle brands and successful motorcycle models are built around a great engine. Although the new Indian Chief has not yet been ridden on the road by the media and the public at large, reading the foreign motorcycle press, I can tell you that the all new Thunder Stroke 111 is widely acclaimed by professionals and bikers alike for its conception and architecture, its size (as a matter of principle and symbolically done on purpose 1″ bigger than Harley’s 110″ Twin Cam) and looks (that can be qualified as “flamboyant art-deco styling”) With Polaris Industries’ engineering background and expertise, there are few doubts that in terms of technical features, Indian Motorcycle can easily rival Harley-Davidson engineering and go compete wherever in the world the Milwaukee manufacturer is present or is going to go next to acquire new market shares.
Indian Motorcycle is already re-born a superstar. A blessing although somewhat a risk because expectations are so high. If anything needs to be perfected, the company has, contrary to all post-1953 former Indian name owners, the technical and financial resources to correct and improve, to follow-up with the release of new models able to satisfy the taste and expectations of different groups of bikers with different financial means and belonging to different cultures in different markets. Polaris Industries made it clear since Indian’s acquisition 2 years ago, in substance stating that “With Indian we work for the long term and will not give up.” Simply because the company knows very well that only Indian can do what Victory was unable to do, to seriously compete with Harley-Davidson both here and abroad.
Added 06/20/13 at 7.30 a.m. USA ET.
Indian Motorcycle Australia’s “One-Eleven Originals” Fully Subscribed. Indian Motorcycle Australia is pleased to announce that the first 111 bikes, known as the “One-Eleven Originals” have been sold.Prospective owners that placed their deposits have already started to receive part of the special ” One-Eleven Original Kits” that contains exclusive shirt, Indian warbonnet paperweight, Indian belt and belt-buckle. On the back of such strong local pre-sale orders, the Australian dealers will receive additional launch inventory allowing them to continue to take orders for bikes beyond the first 111 for potential delivery this year. The first 111 owners will all get an invite to the official launch of the all-new Indian Chief Motorcycle being held in Sydney between August 3-11 and be amongst the first in the world (with those present in Sturgis) to see the new model.