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Posts Tagged ‘Indian Motorcycle’

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-11-15-09-amPolaris, the MN-based maker of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles announced today that it’s winding down the Victory brand effective immediately to concentrate on its better-performing Indian Motorcycles business.

Polaris said it will assist dealerships in liquidating inventory and will supply parts for another 10 years and honor warranties in place.  Victory motorcycles are primarily manufactured in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

The first Victory motorcycles rolled out in 1998, yet never took much market share from Harley-Davidson Inc., in the cruiser-bike category. Indian Motorcycles, which Polaris relaunched after a 2011 acquisition, has performed better, however Harley’s market share remains at 48 percent to Indian’s 3 percent.

Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine stated, “This decision will improve the profitability of Polaris and our global motorcycle business, and will materially improve our competitive stance in the industry. Our focus is on profitable growth, and in an environment of finite resources, this move allows us to optimize and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands. Ultimately this decision will propel the industry-leading product innovation that is core to our strategy while fostering long-term growth and increased shareholder value.”

Photo courtesy of Victory/Polaris.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Chief-2014Traditional product launches often act as a big corporate “Lighting Bolt.”

Meaning the company plans a big event, creates loads of new sales tools and collateral and places those important ad campaigns in the trade rags.  All the while keeping everything in hush, hush secrecy ‘til they near the big day. Then comes the big ‘Ta Da’. The press release hits the wire, they hold some big chest-thumping events and then start selling, having trained the sales force in the weeks prior.

Spirit of Munro -- Named in honor of Burt Munro’s “Munro Special,”

Spirit of Munro — Named in honor of Burt Munro’s “Munro Special,”

The Indian Motorcycle (Polaris Industries) launch plan is different.

Their launch process is a more gradual, momentum-building approach that is often called “Rolling Thunder.”  Not to be confused with the Rolling Thunder® Inc., and POW/MIA topic, the rolling product launch approach dribbles out information, builds credibility over time, creating anticipation, and leverages social media to feed the various channels and momentum.

Case in point is the dribbling out of key information from Indian Motorcycle. First up at Daytona Bike Week was the reveal — a release of information about the new 111 cubic inch engine, called Thunder Stroke 111™ made in Osceola, WI and assembled at the Polaris plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Next up was the back story of the custom-built streamliner named “Spirit of Munro” and then last weeks announcement of their intent to unveil the new 2014 Indian Chief motorcycle at the 73rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally followed with a sneak-peek video and the subtle announcement (HERE at 0:43) of the $18,999 price. The previous Indian Chief sold in the $26-$37K range and the previous owners may stare at that in slacked-jaw envy!

Thunder Stroke 111™

Thunder Stroke 111™

Clearly the supply-chain scale and negotiation mojo that Polaris brings to the Indian table brought better component pricing and improved labor rates.

The Indian brand dates back to the early 1900s.  Polaris acquired it in 2011 and 27 months later will release a new classic motorcycle line.  Polaris continues forward with their Victory 15-year old brand of motorcycles.  They each draw on different customers.

I’m not sure how many more “dribbles” they have planned, but the press buzz and excitement of the launch in social media circles is clearly throttling up.

Photo’s courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Springfield-era Indian Motorcycle

Back in 2004, Stephen Julius, a British-Italian financier with a talent for extracting valuable brands from the junkyard (remember Chris Craft?) did just that as he scooped up the Indian Motorcycle marquee and brand rights.  Partnering with Mr. Julius would be his Harvard Business School classmate Steve Heese.  The two would be the 5th set of entrepreneurs who purchased the intellectual property rights and have tried to resurrect the iconic Indian nameplate.

Last week I received an email from Indian Motorcycle.  They plan to provide an exclusive VIP space in downtown Sturgis for any motorcyclist who rides/trailers a Springfield-era Indian motorcycle to the mother of motorcycle rallies.  It’s a cool idea to reinforce the relationship and I would anticipate that rally attendees will be able to stroll through the area and gawk at the vintage motorcycles.  I’m planning to attend the rally and hope to snag a couple of photo’s.  You can participate by sending an email to Etracy at indianmotorcycle dot com if you plan to attend Sturgis and want to participate in the VIP area.

The email message led me to do a quick scan of the Indian.com web site to see what’s new.  What I found was shocking.  Marketing heads should roll!

The main page is stuck in 2009!  Yeah, I know they aren’t on the same release schedule as other motorcycle manufactures, but the view is the same as it ever was.  The news/press release page is stale.  I’m not talking about “brown bananas” stale here… it’s full on AWOL.   Not a single press release since January 2009?  That’s 17 months?!   In April they re-launched on the West Coast and posted some Facebook banter along with tweets, but the lack of any pure play press release boggles the mind.  This is at best a scattershot approach and I don’t know any 20-something willing to shell out $30,999 for a Bomber in this current economy.  This “new-wave” thinking to do all your evangelizing via Facebook is… well ‘da bomb… not meant in a good way.

I’ve been critical about over hyping products in this new-era of marketing, but if the good folks at Indian plan to make their motorcycle company the de-facto standard in premium cruiser motorcycles a little more press information now and then to let us know you remain alive and well would be a good thing.

Photo courtesy of Indian.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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C4CNavajo, or Dine -they call themselves, is the largest tribe of North American Indians.  They used sheep for its wool to make clothes, blankets, and rugs.  They also used the sheep for food.  They traveled by horse back on long distances to trade.  Then Navajo began making items to trade in towns.  There were also trading posts built on reservations to sell their handmade crafts, such as pottery and blankets which continues to this day.

But, I’m talking about the Indian Motorcycle “trading post”.

The “trading” started with the “It Pays to Ride” promotion where you could purchase a 2009 Indian motorcycle and the company would pay the first 6 months of your payments up to $500/month. Basically it’s a $3000 discount (at the $500/month maximum) off the purchase of a new Indian motorcycle.  Now they’ve taken a page from the “Cash-for-Clunker” (C4C) program and in the process Indian out markets Harley-Davidson!  Bring in any motorcycle** and get $3000 trade on the 2009 Indian Chief model.  **The trade in must be street legal, 100 cc or larger and in running and ride able condition.  No mopeds, scooters or dirt bikes and must have a clear title.

The good news here is that taxpayer money will NOT be used to enable the dealers to offer discounts off sticker prices to extract higher profit margins.  I think this is smart marketing on Indian’s part and will likely boost the number of consumers visiting Indian motorcycle dealers.  I’m very doubtful that consumers will buy comparable quantities to the automotive program, but some new motorcycles will be sold to consumers who thought they had a motorcycle clunker to trade in.

Photo courtesy of Indian Motorcycle.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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At Street Vibrations this year I visited the Indian Motorcycle “booth”.  They had a large display of motorcycles set up in the show truck on 3rd and Virginia Street which is right under the “Biggest Little City” sign in Reno.  It was often crowded and interest was high.  Unfortunately they didn’t sell t-shirts.  If so, I would have drop a bit more coin for some so, maybe it was a good thing. 

At any rate, the Indian Motorcycle Company, owned largely by Stellican Limited (a London-based private equity firm) has quite the history and you can learn much more about Americas first motorcycle HERE.

Recently Indian opened the first dealership in Charlotte, NC and provided factory tours in Kings Mountain.  Here is a video of the tour.  I know people who have several old Indian’s and it’s exciting to see the brand return.  I hope they are very successful as they represent the only other American-made heavyweight cruiser to compete with Harley-Davidson.  Competition is good.

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Ray Sotelo was the first recipient of the JC “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award and retired as the CEO of Indian Motorcycle in 2002.  The Gilroy Dispatch reported he was arrested by state and federal agents on suspicion of racketeering and conspiracy of trafficking stolen parts, loan-sharking, and doing business with outlaw motorcycle clubs.  He is accused of helping a California chop shop send a stolen Harley to Sweden.  Additionally, the owner of Road Dog Cycle in Denair, CA., a retired Stanislaus County sheriff Robert Holloway and his son Brent were also charged in the indictment along with 9 others.  You can read more in the Department of Justice press release.   Others indicted include:

  1. Alfredo Rincon – East Bay Dragons
  2. Ray Heffington – Hells Angels (Merced Chapter President)
  3. Joseph Tyler – Retired CHP officer
  4. Michael Orozco – Alky Haulers (Chapter VP)
  5. Fredrick Noreberg – Red Devils (Sweden Chapter President), official supporter club to HAMC

Ray Sotelo

Ray Sotelo may be a bonehead fencing stolen iron to Sweden, but he began working in the motorcycle industry in 1979 when he opened a retail outlet, South County Motorcycles, in Gilroy, CA. and knows motorcycles.  He built custom motorcycles for celebrity sports figures including Karl Malone, Ralph Tamm, Dusty Baker, Erik Wright and even a recreation of the Captain America bike from the move Easy Rider for Peter Fonda.  He then opened California Motorcycle Company (CMC) in 1995 – a full scale manufacturing operation – to meet the demand for his bikes.  CMC was purchased by Indian Motorcycle in 1999.  Things began a slow decline and is the making of a good conspiracy where Judges were being paid off, investors getting money under the table, parts kickbacks, gigantic executive salaries, the little guy getting nothing – again ….. it doesn’t get much better than this except in the movies.

I’ve never met Ray or have I rode an Indian, but I’ll keep an open mind until there’s more proof.  Being charged isn’t the same as being found guilty…but, it looks bad as the Fed’s are involved and it means he has some serious issues to take care.  It also looks (at least on the surface) that there are a number of ex-sworn officers who may have been involved in a criminal enterprise.

Photos courtesy Indian Motorcycle and The Gilroy Dispatch.

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