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Posts Tagged ‘Victory’

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.

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The 2012 Progressive International Motorcycle show will soon hit the northwest on December 16-18th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Attendees can check-out new bikes from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Brammo, BRP, Darwin, Ducati, Erik Buell Racing, Gas Gas, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Indian, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Norton, Star, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.  There will also be the latest aftermarket parts and accessories.

Not only will there be new bikes, but the show is jammed pack with other events and activities.

There is the Learning Curve – an interactive stage with industry experts presenting a variety of motorcycling topics for both new and experienced riders including adventure riding, motorcycle maintenance, increasing bike performance, seminars for women riders and more.   There will be Demo Rides for licensed motorcyclists.  There is the Custom Bike Show – where motorcycle builders will showcase elite-level custom motorcycles competing for a piece of a $90,000 cash purse prize and a chance to compete in the U.S. Championship, at the Daytona Beach Motorcycle Show, in March.

The Smage Bros will have a motorcycle trials stunt riding show and attendees will also get a chance to create their own motorcycle design at the Kawasaki Design-A-Bike kiosk, featuring a brand new digital spray-painting technology available only at these shows.

See you there!

Photo courtesy of Progressive.

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2011 Cross Roads Custom

‘Tis the new model season and earlier in the week Victory Motorcycles provided information on its 2011 line-up at a dealers meeting in Orlando, FL.

The Medina, Minnesota-based company has been busy researching how to attract buyers in this challenging marketplace. They’ve been blacking-out components, beefing up engines, recalibrating transmissions, tuning the exhaust, and made ABS standard on several models.  For 2011 the company brings the introduction of 15 motorcycles.

Most newsworthy, however, was the manufacturer’s decision to use the new “Victory Freedom” 106/6 V-Twin in every model.  The powerplant is a 4-stroke, 50-degree, 106 cubic inch (1731cc) V-Twin (compression ratio 9.4:1).  There are two versions of the 106/6 powerplant. The first is called the “Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 V-Twin,” which has a special Stage 2 cam package that boosts its power numbers to a claimed 97 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque.   All of Victory’s cruiser models (Vegas Jackpot, Hammer, Hammer S, Vegas, Kingpin, all three 8-Ball cruisers, and the Zach Ness Signature Series Vegas 8-Ball) will come with this engine.  The second version is called the “Freedom 106/6 Stage 1 V-Twin” which puts out a claimed 92 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque and will power the remaining 2011 motorcycles, including the Cross Country, Cross Roads, Victory Vision Tour, and Arlen and Cory Ness’ Signature Series.

In addition the motorcycle manufacture updated its transmission to a “100K mile” warranty along with modifications aimed to reduce driveline lash, reduce gear whine and to make it easier for riders to shift into neutral at a stop courtesy of a “Neutral Assist.” It’s also said to improve ride-ability and deliver a more appealing-sounding transmission.

The new Cross Roads Custom touring bike will feature air-adjust rear suspension, dual disk front brakes and inverted forks.  The company also announced a new custom program, which allows a consumer to select the bike color, saddlebag style, highway bar style and possibly a windshield. All totaled, the consumer can select up to 48 possible combinations.

Photo courtesy of Victory Motorcycles.

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Polaris Industries -- Victory Motorcycles

Creativity.

There is a fascinating and quite boring article in ‘Newsweek’ about the creativity gap, how creativity is declining in America.  Reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about the motorcycle business and specifically Harley-Davidson.

Given it’s earning season; H-D announce earnings HERE, now it’s Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII), makers of the Victory motorcycles turn who reported its Q2’10 net income of $25.6 million.  By comparison, the 2009 second quarter net income was $17.5 million.  Sales for the second quarter 2010 totaled $430.9 million, an increase of 25% from $345.9 million recorded in the year-earlier period.

Scott Wine, Polaris’ CEO stated:

“Polaris maintained strong momentum in the second quarter, driven by solid market share gains, sales growth and margin expansion. Innovation and execution enabled us to deliver another quarter of solid operating results in an overall economic and powersports industry environment that remains sluggish.”

Yeah, but you’re likely saying that’s all ATV and snowmobile sales, right?  True the lions share is off-road sales, but specific to sales of the On-Road Division, which primarily consists of Victory motorcycles, they saw an increase of 48% during the second quarter of 2010 vs. the same period in 2009. The N.A. heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle industry remained weak during the quarter, but Victory motorcycles had strong retail sales during the second quarter, increasing more than 10% in N.A. compared to the second quarter last year, resulting in overall market share gains and retail sales growth for the third consecutive quarter. The increased demand reflects the popularity of the new 2010 Cross Country and Cross Roads touring models.   The N.A. dealer inventory of Victory motorcycles declined 32% in the Q2’10 compared to 2009 comparable levels. The sale of Victory motorcycles in markets outside of N.A. continues to accelerate, with sales reaching 25% of total On-Road/Victory sales for the year-to-date period.  And lastly the income from Polaris financial services was $4.2 million for Q2’10 compared to $4.0 million in 2009.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something missing for me with the Victory motorcycle.  Maybe it’s just the “bar-n-shield” logo and now my bias is showing?  But I balk at comments from riders that claim Victory is NOT a threat or competition for H-D… it just doesn’t ring true.  The cruisers are more roomy, the engine has more HP, the motorcycle is lighter, has a lower seat, larger saddlebags all at a cost of thousands less means Victory is doing a lot RIGHT on the creativity front.

In other words, the Harley-Davidson businessmen look to squeeze all the creativity out in the name of profits.  And now the business is in the hands of the manufacturing line worker, who are always the least creative element in the chain.  The engineers designed out cost, the line-worker built them at the lowest cost, the dealer sold them slightly above cost. Now the company is trying to fix the business, but are flummoxed.  Do they truly think cutting out cost, means somehow people will magically appear?

They’re not and meanwhile Victory ratchet’s up innovation.

Photo courtesy of Polaris/Victory Motorcycles.

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Today was not a good day for leadership.

First it was Calderon.   You know — the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon?  His administration has attempted to rid Mexico of the narco-traffickers using thousands of Mexican troops and hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, but cartel members have killed thousands in an effort to maintain control of the lucrative drug trafficking routes.  More than 18,000 people have been killed since Calderon launch his military offensive in 2006.

Then in an unprecedented mucho ballsy move he comes to the U.S. today and complained about Arizona’s immigration law (SB1170), when all the state wants to do is protect itself against a flood of illegal immigrants from Calderon’s country!  And, how about that Congress’s standing ovation for the Mexican leader?!  Adding insult to injury in this twilight zone was President Obama complaining whining about Arizona trying to do something about a problem he- President Obama and the federal government- have created and choose to ignore.  George W. didn’t help.  Combined with the fact they can’t be bothered to read the law that they’re criticizing. If they did, they’d find out that parts of Arizona’s law are word-for-word the same- exactly- as the federal statutes on immigration.  I’ll save my viewpoints on how Mr. Calderon should spend his time trying to create opportunities for his own citizens, so they’re not driven by poverty and desperation to sneak into this country illegally for another day.  The fact is that this “pony show” is all about pandering to Hispanics for votes.

And speaking of pandering…

Polaris Industries Inc., (parent company of Victory motorcycle) announced today that it will establish a new factory in Mexico’s Monterrey/Saltillo area. Talk about great timing on doing your part for the American economy — exporting American jobs along with the factories.  This major realignment will begin immediately and will lead to an eventual sale or closure of the Polaris’ Osceola, Wis., manufacturing operations.  Polaris stated the realignment allows it to invest in and outsource certain “nonstrategic” component manufacturing processes while improving on-time delivery to customers, and providing savings in logistical and production costs.  Make no mistake, it is all about the money.

Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris, stated in a press release:

“Pursuing opportunities in new markets outside the United States, while concurrently evaluating our cost structure to improve our long-term competitive positioning, are key components to our growth strategy. This decision was based on a thorough review of our worldwide operations and will allow us to improve our ability to meet the quality, delivery and cost standards desired by our dealers and customers.”

Harley-Davidson has made it public they are also considering a move out of Wisconsin.  Inconceivable? Think again.  Polaris plans to have their factory in Mexico operational beginning in the first half of 2011.  Can H-D be too far behind?

My philosophy is that if my neighbor doesn’t have a job, sooner or later I won’t have a job either.

Photo courtesy of Harlistas.

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HD_StormNow more than ever, Harley executives say that customer experience is critical to how motorcycle firms compete.

They’re right: research indicates a high correlation between good customer experience and increased customer loyalty.

Unfortunately not all dealers get high marks from their customers. And that translates into lower sales, higher churn, and lost business that goes to competitors.  Does the customer experience become less important during an economic downturn? Absolutely not!!  Building loyalty and catering to the needs of customers is even more important in these very challenging times.  And HD is doing much more than paying lip service.

PiperAccording to the newly released (.pdf) 2009 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) U.S. Motorcycle Industry Study, Ducati dealerships ranked highest.  This is one of a series of annual benchmarking studies which measure how consumers are treated when shopping for a new car, motorcycle, RV or boat. The independent study sent 2,100 hired anonymous “mystery shoppers” into motorcycle dealerships nationwide, then used the patent-pending PSI process to compile the results into accurate measurement of how each brand’s dealerships treat motorcycle shoppers.

Following Ducati was Harley-Davidson—whose dealers were ranked first in 2007 and 2008—then BMW, Victory, Buell and MV Augusta all above the industry average. Overall motorcycle industry performance improved from 2008 to 2009, with eleven of the fifteen major motorcycle brands achieving higher PSI scores.  Harley-Davidson dealers performed substantially above the motorcycle industry average, but 2009 marked the first time in three years that dealers from another motorcycle brand were ranked higher.

A powerful brand needs to convey a long list of qualities; often, a brand may find itself stuck trying to represent too many — even conflicting — things. It seems that Harley is faced with this very situation. Social media interaction with the company will continue to grow in this downturn due in part to its ability to reduce the cost of customer acquisition, service, and transactions. Motorcycle consumers have many places to discover products. In fact, consumption of digital media and the Internet is shifting to cell phones and other portable devices. This proliferation adds complexity to an already highly competitive marketplace, and changing demographics. Keeping the customer central in retailers’ strategies will be difficult given the short attention span.

They have yet to ask for my viewpoint, but I believe Harley-Davidson can improve business results by developing deeper connections with us consumers and independent bloggers. It begins with the recognition that blogs are a new motorcycle “voice” and that the customer experience is a wide-range set of activities, not just an isolated event.  It’s a multiyear customer experience with the end result for any organization dependent on how effectively it navigates through multiple stages of the customer experience maturity.

Congrats to Ducati and the HD dealers!

Photo courtesy of PSI and Forester.

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