Polaris Moves Indian Motorcycle Production to Spirit Lake Iowa

Polaris has followed up their earlier announcement of the acquisition of Indian Motorcycles with the news that Indian production will move to Spirit Lake, Iowa from Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Though no new jobs will be created in Iowa, the facility has been growing with 100 new jobs added this past year due to demand for the other Polaris vehicles already assembled there, including Victory motorcycles. An old American brand will be manufactured in America with enough financial backing to do it right. Good stuff.

Polaris sales of approximately $2 billion includes $82 million from their Victory line. The company, because of their diversification, is doing very well compared to some other motorcycle manufacturers and provides a solid footing for the Indian brand. If done right, this could be a very good combination.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops and I bet Harley is interested, too. One of the factors hurting Indian may have been customer concern over the future prospects for the company. The support of Polaris promises a brighter future and that alone may boost sales.

Link: Sioux City Journal

Comments

  1. rob says

    Victory Indian – Indian Victory either one would make a good name for a motorcycle model. Maybe the trad side of Polaris, shuffle in some small (sub 600cc) cruisers, take on the Chinese and Royal Enfield. Meanwhile Polaris can use their own name to make sports bikes that can compete with Europe and Japan.

  2. says

    Now they should buy Buell, I mean E.B.R. and slap the Indian name on that! THAT would be cool! The Indian name should be on something that would just SMOKE any HD.

  3. dan says

    The economies of scale will be a factor! The Victory engine is superior so which V Twin goes in the Indian? The next acquisition would be Highlands. Great American story! How bout bringing back the four!

    • hoyt says

      The massive amount of cruiser sales potential should allow Polaris to serve either cruiser rider very well (the one who favors a modern look and the one who favors nostalgia), so both engines should still be produced. Lower the overall appearance of the Indians and they will look much better. It would be good to see a current Chief next to a Road King

  4. steve w says

    The Victory gang has never been in a hurry to concoure the world in sales. They have always known it would be a hard slow road and it has. Sales of Victory Motorcycles isn’t staggering but they continue to make progress. They will approach Indian the same way. They will at least have a dealer network to work with and that is manditory for any success to happen. They may keep the bottle cap engine but they know they can do better than that as they have proven. I won’t be buying any new motorcycle but I wish them the best and will always stay tuned into the industry.

  5. Chris R says

    I am happy Indian will continue, however I am saddened by the closing of the NC facility. Jobs lost but at least the brand survives and job continue in Iowa.

  6. Tin Man says

    Not every bike has to be fast, the Cheif does just fine with its Coke cap head engine. You want Fast buy the Victory. The Indian is better off with its traditional style engine.

    • Tim says

      There’s a small but significant market for “Vintage looking bikes” Triumph Bonneville, Scrambler,Kawasaki W650/800 Ducati GT1000, any Harley pretty much. I have no need or desire to own or ride a 200hp, 200mph motorcycle, I like the look of old bikes but they are a PITA to live with day to day. so if you want that look (and those ergonomics in my case) thats what you buy.

  7. says

    If Polaris will stay with the vintage look of the Indian but, boost the power to above what HD has to offer as its competion I think they could have a winner. I too would love to see Polaris but US Highland! I was EXTREMELY interested in their line up.

  8. Tin Man says

    I don’t understand this hangup about Horse Power, Neither the Indian Cheif or the Harley Tour bikes are under powered. Nobody buys a cruiser to race, they are for a relaxing ride on a cool Sunday morning. There are to many 100HP bikes on the market to count, Torque is what moves a big bike, and the Indian Cheif/Harleys have plenty of Torque.

  9. Zippy says

    Lets be realistic, Indian has 21 dealers with $11 million in sales. Less than 1/2 of 1 % of a shrinking market. HD sales are in the billions and control %60+ of the over 600cc market. There 21 dealers within a 3 hour drive of my house.

    It takes, years, if not decades to build a dealer base in good growing times.
    Combine that with a shrinking demographic in the big cruiser market (ins’t everyone screaming about HDs customer base dying off?) and an almost finatical devotion to the brand. HD likely is not that worried.

  10. todd says

    I agree with Zippy. Yes, H-D may be looking at Victory’s moves but only because they think it’s cute. It will be a long time before Victory or Indian will be on a competitive level with H-D even if their bikes are better. In this market, better is not what counts.

    Me? I like old, small bikes. I have 21 dealers within a 30 minute drive from my house – most of which advertise on Craigslist. 100% of the sales goes to support my local neighbors.

    -todd

  11. SteveD says

    The Indian brand has far more panache than Victory. As has been said, most cruisers have plenty of power for their intended use. Polaris will keep the bottlecap engine because that’s why people buy the Indian. Given enough power and comfort, the next big selling point is style, just like with cars. I am psyched about this move.

  12. Big D says

    I would like to see them build a new version of the Scout. Not everyone in America wants a 1700cc , 800 Lb bike.

  13. Zippy says

    Better is a subjective term. IMO there is not a “better” looking MC made than the Roadking Classic.

    Folks buy on emotion, we buy the bike we want, not the bike we need.

    • Ken says

      I think we buy what we like because sometimes they don’t make the bike we need! Every motorcycle I’ve ever bought has had some kind of shortcomming that I either had to live with or modify. But you are right, if I didn’t like to sit and stare at it, I wouldn’t have bought it!

  14. TYRUSS says

    I agree that buying Buell as well would be a great move and would give Polaris a leg in the sports bike catagory. But as I said in the last post regarding this topic I also believe that Indian would do well by creating a flagship model using their newly created Indian motor (I’m being optomistic now) this would be a motor that would not only power a long wheel base bike that is capable of 200mph but also other models, (but of course in a de-tuned state), it doesnt have to handle like a sports bike but it does have to be rock solid stable with outstanding brakes and build quality. Taking a lesson from Suzuki’s Busa, this bikes performance would be so outstanding that it developes a cult following (just like a Busa) and brings interest from not only potential buyers of this model but also other models in the Indian line up. Think of all the extra sales Subaru’s WRX brought Subaru’s other models !
    I still say call this bike the Munro in honor of Burt (because this man did more for the Indian brand name than anyone else and the story is in recent living memory), a 200mph fully faired streamliner for the street. This is a bike that would bring new interest to the Indian brand that may not exist today in the greater biking public.
    Oh and HD cruisers and the like having plenty of torque ??? you must be joking ! Have you ridden a Rocket 3 ?
    That just cracks me right up HD with plenty of power and torque ?????

  15. says

    I’m a bit taken back by how positive this release is made out to sound. Obviously some folks in North Carolina are facing unemployment after reading this, something that all too many Americans are already dealing with.

    And what are the plans for Indian? Scott Wine vaguely outlines them in the prior press release, but are you going to truly trust this chap after last year he sent production of Polaris ATVs to Mexico? This release has bad news written all over it. Indian production gets moved to Spirit Lake, and then what?

    There’s a huge question as to whether the Indian name is dissolved by Polaris/Victory, or worse yet, severely diluted. The Gilroy, CA produced Indians suffered from the use of an S&S engine, with many critics being opposed to the brand because of the Harley-based S&S engine design. As it is looking now, what’s stopping Victory from slapping their V-Twin in the frame of the next Cheif. That only puts Indian right back to the point they found themselves in a decade ago.

    As always, time will be the telling factor in this matter, but there is way too much uncertainty in the Polaris/Victory corporation to say that Indian is indeed safe for the long run. Now that they have the great Indian name, I only hope they continue to evolve the identity of the Indian brand.

    • Ken says

      I feel bad for the workers as well. I was laid-off twice in 9 months 2 years ago. I survived and they will too.

      Polaris is taking a pretty big risk trying to get Indian back up to form. How many investment groups have tried and failed? To be truthful, I didn’t even know they were in production right now! So, if they have to move to a different production facility to make it work for them, that’s what they have to do. I wish the soon to be former workers and Polaris the best.

    • todd says

      Just look at all the new opportunities for employment in Iowa now. I’m sure there may be a few people there who would like a new job at a motorcycle manufacturing plant. There’s no guarantee they will need to hire people just for the Indian line but Polaris is growing and hiring people. How is that not good?

      -todd

  16. Scott says

    I can completely understand the financial reasoning for doing it this way. But with that said, the statement that Indian would be autonomous (or some similar wording in the original release) suddenly seems very hollow.

  17. Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

    Losing a job is never easy and for the Indian employees it’s definitely no small thing, but there was a total of 25 employees in the NC facility and with Indian sales going rather slow, there was a danger they were looking at a job loss in any event.

    With this move by Polaris, the Indian brand may actually survive this time and the customers who purchased Indians from the new company will see continuing support for their recent purchase. Definitely a plus on both counts.

  18. B50 Jim says

    With just 25 employees at the NC plant, Indian must have been barely surviving. Time will tell if Polaris can entice it to produce numbers enough to make it more than a boutique brand. I remain optimistic, but cautiously so. The Indian name has so much baggage attached that Polaris will need a serious marketing campaign to overcome the negatives. Also, Indian has been a “dead’ brand for so long that most riders have barely heard of it, much less associate it with its glory days. The big question is: Can the motorcycle market generate the numbers to make yet another expensive big-twin cruiser viable?

  19. says

    I agree with some of the above.

    Buell or Highland should be an aquisition for Victory. A great place to start with bikes other than cruisers.

    The Indian Motor is still basically an S and S motor copied from HD. Some improvements, some cosmetic changes, but still an old design. Even HD has moved on from that, and even S and S has tried to build their own motor. I think most people wanted an American Made Indian with their own specific motor. How much better would it have been, if they had done an inline four? EVeryone wanted to copy the HD V Twin.

    Victory makes a good motor, but it is still very heavy. Victory has the means to make another motor, a twin, a triple, or an inline four. Victory could make some cool stuff. I wish them the best of luck in what they do. I think they can become the premier American Made Motorcycle

    Imagine, Victory able to compete in Flat Track, Road Racing, etc. A great name for any Race. The Victory is the Victor!

    EBR or Highland would give you a great base to branch out from the Cruiser market, and extend your reach in the two wheel world.

    Take the current Victory motor and make an S1 Buell Hot Rod. How cool would that be. Nothing but wheels, Motor, and a seat.

  20. Ken says

    Well, there is something to be said of having a bike that is only made in small numbers. Its one of the best ways to have a cult like status. But it really needs to have some character that the other mass produced bikes won’t have. Quality, character and amazing customer service with an eye looking back on the glory days infused with modern technology is all it would take.

  21. John says

    I seriously doubt that Polaris will use the current Evo based coke bottle motor. And I don’t think they should use the Victory motor, they should develope a brand new motor.And I would like to see them have maybe one model of the big cruizer but also diversify and creat some performance, light wieght bikes, that is what thier early heritage was, performance.

  22. steve w says

    for those that didn’t like the Gilroy Indians, just let me say if the money people hadn’t decided to pull the funding when they did and if Indian hadn’t dumped a ton of money into the bottle cap engine (that at the time failed from soft flywheels) and had continued with the newer offering that S&S had for them they would have succeeded. They only needed about 6 more months to turn the last corner. They were so close. that is all history now .

    • John says

      Maybe but I think the judge that gave the decision to Gilroy screwed up,he knew nothing about motorcycles. The company should have gone to the Eller Group, they had new motor designs not related to anything else. I have a Harley and love it, why would I want to buy a more expensive bike with a motor one generation older than my TwinCam with a bunch of heavy phoophoo crap on it?

  23. mobilus says

    I’d love to see the Indian Chief eventually done as a proper tourer, inline four with the legs to run all day and not overheat. I’d love to see the Scout as some scrambler type on-offroad…. maybe as a 600cc single and 1000cc v-twin (Dakar Scout!) The Indian name has far more value than Victory. Indian was never married to one engine type as per Harley, and there’s space and ability to do as Bloor has done with Triumph… be both modern and retro. HD have been idiots the last 20 years not to buy up the rights to Indian and retire it.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      All this talk about inline fours is interesting and I like it. Remember the Rambler from Cook Customs? That was just turning an old Honda 4 sideways and it looked pretty cool. With a little high tech engineering, a new Indian inline 4 would kick serious butt. Performance and looks and Harley would have nothing in response. The most valuable old Indians are the fours. Going after that market might be just the ticket.

      • wannaby says

        I agreee…… even if the japs made a new 750 four sideways id buy it and bob it……I dont care who does it …just make something even a motor trans combo so I can get my hands on it and build it my way….like the alma four ……