Polaris Acquires Indian Motorcycle

04/19/2011 @ 3:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Polaris Industires has just announced its acquisition of the historic Indian Motorcycle company. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the deal sees one of the most historic names in American motorcycling finding a home with a major player in the motorcycle industry. The move is an interesting one for Polaris, as the company already owns cruiser and touring motorcycle manufacturer Victory Motorcycles.

According to the company press release, Indian will function as an autonomous business unit, but will likely gett help from Polaris’s engineering department, along with the obvious supply chain and purchasing power of the larger brand.

“We are excited to be part of the revitalization of a quintessentially American brand,” said Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris Industries Inc. “Indian built America’s first motorcycle. With our technology and vision, we are confident we will deliver the classic Indian motorcycle, enhanced by the quality and performance for which Polaris and Victory are known.”

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Polaris. Polaris will utilize its well-known strengths in engineering, manufacturing, and distribution to complete the mission we undertook upon re-launching the brand in 2006: harness the enormous potential of the Indian brand,” said Stephen Julius, Chairman of Indian. “Polaris is the most logical owner of Indian Motorcycle. Indian’s heritage brand will allow Polaris to aggressively compete across an expanded spectrum of the motorcycle market.”

The deal is a win for Julius, who is likely seeing a profitable exit from his endeavor to reboot the once defunct American brand. Since he bought Indian back in 2006, the company has been producing only a limited number of near-collector status motorcycles. The deal also seems like a win for Polaris, who adds another vector of attack to its assault on segment giant Harley-Davidson.

What will be interesting to watch is how Polaris will manage the two brands of Victory and Indian, and whether they substantially cannibalize sales from one another while under the same roof. We have a feeling Indian will play to its historic past and be the vintage side of the Polaris’s cruiser equation, while Victory will continue its more modern approach to the cruiser design.

Interesting stuff, and we’re sure Milwaukee will be watching this one closely, as the announcement comes well timed with Harley-Davidson’s Q1 earnings report.

Source: Polaris Industries

  • gnmac

    AWESOME! I wish nothing but the best and hope to see Indian thrive under the new ownership. I hope they can infuse some much needed energy into the American motorcycle design scene.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Would be great if they go with something other than just new Chiefs. The Scout would provide Polaris with something to go up against the Sportster, and the Four would be just plain cool to see. I big inline four, like Rocket III big. There was also the very short-lived 841, if they wanted to try and attract some Guzzistas.

  • I see Indian as the boutique brand for Polaris, as Jensen stated above. Plus . . . . . imagine Arlen Ness working his mojo on an Indian !

  • Richard Gozinya

    Joey, that’s a terrifying thought.

  • Victor Pritzker

    The main issue here is that this instantly gives Indian access to a very large and well developed dealership network, the most important aspect of actual commercialization.

  • damo

    Hopefully Polaris will help them expand their line a bit. Some Cafe-esque sporty Indians would be great and wouldn’t break tradition too much.

    Dammit I just want an American sport bike, is that too much to hope for? It is 2011 for crying out loud.

  • hoyt

    Victor – which, in turn, gives Victory/Indian access to the legions of people that want a vintage look for their cruiser. That is something Victory couldn’t do no matter how well their cruiser matched HD. Victory still does well in attracting cruiser riders who want something “new” and/or not HD.

    Great move. Victory to HD: “check”

  • Victor Pritzker

    Hoyt-Agreed. Clearly Victory out “Updates” the HD cruisers, and Indian out “Vintages” the HD cruisers. Very good positioning.
    Damo-who knows, now that it is clear that Polaris/Victory is bent on expanding their product category offerings… And therefore their market share- as BMW and Ducati have done successfully, a sport bike category by internal design or external acquisition does not seem all that far fetched.

  • Victory to HD: “check”

    I’m stealing that reference hoyt.

  • Tom

    An acquisition was inevitable. For all the haters going online bashing Harley in this economic implosion, virtually no one ever mentioned Indian. Indian always had a more precarious business model than Harley and was never going to ride out (no pun intended) this recession intact. The world is is simply not buying bloated, overpriced, underperforming cruisers any longer and its far past time for Indian to revisit the Eller ideas of the past – maybe not the exact designs but definitely the idea of being a full range company and not just a fashion accessory for poseurs.

  • Damo

    @Victor Pritzker

    Hopefully that happens. Don’t get me wrong I love all manner of Sportbikes and have owned Japanese and Euro bikes (currently riding a 2003 Aprilia RSV Mille), but it would be nice to someday own a native soiled developed Sportbike.

  • Chris

    Indian does have the new cafe style bike. Not my taste but it is something.
    Polaris just do not destroy the brand Indian. The asian knock off indians of the 70’s were just horrible. I have visited the Charlotte Indian store every year since it has opened. The Bikes are amazing. sad as it maybe – I am one of the few that just cant seem to come up with 36k to get one. Not even the 80 months zero financing can i afford.
    So if Polaris can drop the price in half i will get a new one tomorrow. But if the only way to do that is to make it an crappy assembly model without class then just kill the brand.

  • Martin

    Damo said: Dammit I just want an American sport bike, is that too much to hope for? It is 2011 for crying out loud.

    You mean one we can afford.

  • has nobody heard of buell???

    erik has mad a 180hp twin cylinder race bike. a feat that jap bikes have to use 4 cylinders for.

    there is your american sportbike gentlemen.