Polaris' Tough Decision - Victory Motorcycle Is No More

When Polaris first acquired the Indian Motorcycle brand, many wondered how the manufacturer would market it alongside its Victory line. An announcement from Polaris today proves it's been as difficult as everyone thought it might be with the Victory brand going away pretty quickly.

‘Victory has struggled to establish the market share needed to succeed and be profitable,’ a press release notes. ‘The competitive pressures of a challenging motorcycle market have increased the headwinds for the brand.’

Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:PII), the parent company of Indian Motorcycle, Slingshot and other powersport brands says it will immediately begin winding down its Victory Motorcycles brand and related operations. However, the company isn’t simply walking away. Polaris will assist dealers in liquidating existing inventories while continuing to supply parts for a period of 10 years, along with providing service and warranty coverage to Victory dealers and owners.

Not wanting customers or shareholders to run to the hills, the release explains ‘Today’s announcement does not affect any other Polaris business units.’

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors,” said Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine. “Over the past 18 years, we have invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls, into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished. Since inception, our teams have designed and produced nearly 60 Victory models that have been honored with 25 of the industry’s top awards. The experience, knowledge, infrastructure and capability we’ve built in those 18 years gave us the confidence to acquire and develop the Indian Motorcycle brand, so I would like to express my gratitude to everyone associated with Victory Motorcycles and celebrate your many contributions.”

An amazing worldwide roadtrip wasn't enough to save Victory Motorcycle - Swiss endurance rider Urs “Grizzly” Pedraita

This decision certainly doesn't come from a lack of effort. After acquiring the Indian name Victory Motorcycle introduced a revolutionary powerhouse in the Octane, a new engine and incredible marketing such as a build-offs and a worldwide trip on its Cross Country Touring model with Swiss endurance rider Urs “Grizzly” Pedraita. But, as with other motorcycle manufacturers, Polaris have faced market challenges of tough sales numbers for larger engine models as well as slim profit margins, left over from the last financial recession. Consumers want lighter motorcycles at a lower price. Polaris sums up the current marketplace as ‘changing consumer preferences’.

With manufacturers looking to international sales for growth, it appears Polaris couldn’t justify further investment into the Victory brand based on these challenges. Instead, it will focus its ‘energy and investments’ into the Indian name.

“This decision will improve the profitability of Polaris and our global motorcycle business, and will materially improve our competitive stance in the industry,” said Scott Wine. “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.”

While many riders have said the Indian Scout and Octane could've been separated at motorcycle birth, the riding world will wonder what innovations and hallmarks will move over from the Victory name to Indian. The brand's venture into electric motorcycles with the Empulse TT is just one example of something that could ride over to the Indian name.

Regarding the all-important discussion around jobs and manufacturing, Polaris states they will remain committed to maintaining its presence in the Spirit Lake, Iowa community with Indian Motorcycle production and in the Huntsville, Alabama community with its Slingshot production.

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