Last week Polaris (CEO – Scott Wine) announced the acquisition of Indian, the nation’s oldest motorcycle brand. Indian’s best-selling model, the Chief, became known for the Red Indian logo on its fuel tank. After twice filing for bankruptcy the manufacturing of Indian motorcycles restarted three years ago in Kings Mountain, NC. The terms of the acquisition from British investment firms Stellican Ltd. and Novator Partners LLP were not announced, but given the strong brand portfolio of Indian I’m sure it didn’t come at garage-sale prices!
Polaris entered the heavyweight motorcycle market about 12 years ago and of the Polaris $2B in annual sales, about $82M comes from Victory motorcycles. The Indian brand will help the company build on the Polaris’ presence in the market and directly compete with Harley-Davidson in the heritage brand sub-segment with its classic style.
Clearly the motorcycle landscape is changing and if you need further evidence just look at the recent announcement by BMW Motorrad who saw a 12.3% growth in the last financial year and sold 110,000 motorcycles. They announced that Hero Motors (India company), as the sole supplier who will provide gearboxes for BMW’s motorcycles. Not only are they the supplier, but Hero provided the engineering and developed the advanced technology for all BMW transmissions.
According to this Sioux City Journal article, the U.S. production of Indian Motorcycles will shift to Polaris Industries’ Spirit Lake plant later this year. Polaris is based in Medina, Minn., and they will close the existing Indian manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain in the next two to three months.
Photo taken at and courtesy of Indian booth.