INDIAN ACQUISITION GIVES POLARIS 'COMPATIBLE' BRANDS
Just hours prior to announcing that it had achieved record earnings for the first quarter of 2011, Polaris Industries shocked many throughout the industry by announcing it had acquired Indian Motorcycle from Indian Motorcycle Limited.
The acquisition gives Polaris its second motorcycle line, adding the legendary Indian brand to the Victory cruiser and touring bike line. But reporting to the same parent company will be about as close as this family gets, according to Polaris, as the company plans to operate Indian as an autonomous business unit.
“To be clear, we are going to be extremely protective of this brand,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine told Powersports Business. “I made it clear that if anyone can tell that Indian is owned by Victory, we made a mistake. It can’t look the same, can’t sound the same; it’s got to be its own brand and its own distinctly different bike.”
Wine and his motorcycle division leaders — Steve Menneto, who runs the Victory Motorcycle side of the business and Ross Clifford, who has been named GM of the Indian business — have their eyes focused on the opportunities ahead. And as Wine suggests, it’s almost a hand-in-glove fit to roll Indian into the Polaris mix.
“They really need to get the cost of those bikes down, and we have both the engineering and supply chain to get the cost down and build better bikes,” he explained. “They need distribution. We can do that. They need some marketing muscle; and oh, by the way, we can do that, too. So as we looked at it, we need a strong brand for that diehard segment, they need the things that we can bring to market. So we felt really good about how that fit.”
Polaris says it can now focus on two distinct sectors of the market: The Victory line, appealing to performance enthusiast customers, with its modern styling, value and performance; and the Indian line catering to the die-hard market with its classic styling and iconic brand.
The good thing for Polaris, Wine suggests, is that the two brands appear to be very compatible and don’t necessarily compete with one another. Still, though, the distribution model will be key to Indian’s success.
Part of being protective of such a premium brand is “not having it sold by every mom-and-pop dealership in the country,” Wine says. In his view, customers will come into a dealership wanting to buy a Victory and realize that while the Indian might cost more, it’s the bike they want. Or, they’ll come in to buy an Indian and realize they can save a little money and buy the Victory. “I think we’re going to get a great lift from having these two very compatible brands at our dealers,” he says.
As metrics-based as Polaris is, the company has done its due diligence.
It recognizes that Victory under-represented in the top 100 to top 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Its presence is not as strong as the company would like in the Sunbelt region and some of the largest motorcycle markets. But, Wine said, “We will leverage the Indian acquisition along with Victory to help build out a stronger presence in those key MSAs.
“A lot of people underestimate how much work goes into it before you even announce an acquisition. There was a lot of very, very long and hard work to make sure we had the ability to make this work.”
METRIC EXPORTS TO U.S. CONTINUE CLIMB
Metric motorcycle exports into the United States continued an increase that began in August 2010.
In February, exports from the Big Four increased 41 percent over the year-ago month, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
JAMA members Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha exported more than 18,000 motorcycles into the United States in February, up from nearly 11,000 in February 2010.
Exports into Canada, however, decreased 27 percent, with fewer than 3,000 bikes shipped.
REVIVE YOUR RIDE! LAUNCHES SPRING PROMOTION
Revive Your Ride! has announced that its second annual Win Big Spring Giveaway includes nearly $40,000 in prizes for customers.
The grand prize is a $5,000 prepaid MasterCard that can only be used at participating motorcycle and aftermarket retailers. There are an additional 12 prepaid cards that offer $5,000 in prizes. Also, nearly $30,000 in products will be given away, including helmets, windshields, security systems, motorcycle lifts, exhaust systems, battery chargers, gift certificates and more. The contest runs April 15-June 30.
“Last year’s promotion drove thousands of customers into dealerships everywhere, exactly what it was supposed to do,” said Frank Esposito, Motorcycle Industry Council aftermarket committee chair. “Now it’s back, bigger and better, with a dramatic increase in participation from MIC member companies that have donated $30,000 in cool products and great services as giveaways. Lucky customers will ride away with one of 50 prize packages of gear or cash cards, or the grand prize of a $5,000 MasterCard to spend on accessories, gear, parts or services. Dealers get a fantastic opportunity to participate in a national promotion for a next-to-nothing investment.”
The cost to dealers is $20 for entry materials and $5 for shipping of the materials. That fee includes a promotion kit with 150 6-by-9-inch entry cards and two 18-by-24-inch posters.
Free downloadable posters, banners, postcards, e-cards and more are also available. Dealer registration and materials are available at www.mic.org/reviveyourride. Questions and requests for personalized e-cards can be e-mailed to RYR@mic.org.
AMA PLANS CAPITOL HILL RALLY AGAINST LEAD LAW
The American Motorcyclist Association has planned a Washington rally for motorcyclists, ATV riders and their families to bring the effects of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to the attention of lawmakers, according to the AMA.
The media and lobbying event, dubbed “AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb,” is set for May 26.
To prepare for the event, the AMA is asking riders to create homemade videos about how the law, which would effectively ban the sale of youth ATVs and dirtbikes to children ages 12 and younger, will affect them.
“There is no one better to articulate the importance of riding with your family than the very kids who will be impacted by the unintended consequences of this law,” AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland said. “The Kids Just Want to Ride! video contest will put a real face on the effects of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which is known as the lead law and threatens the availability of kid-sized motorcycles and ATVs.”
The winning video will be a key component of the Capitol Hill rally.
Full details about the video contest and AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb are available at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/kidsjustwanttoride.aspx.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON CEO TO BECOME DANA CHAIRMAN
Keith Wandell, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc., will become the non-executive chairman of Dana Holding Corp. on June 30.
Wandell, who is serving as the lead independent director of the board, will succeed John Devine, who will retire in June from his position of interim CEO and executive chairman. Dana Holding Corp. is a supplier of driveline products, power technologies and service parts for light- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers.
POLARIS DONATES TO JAPAN EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY
Polaris Industries Inc. has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to assist in earthquake relief in Japan, the company announced.
“On behalf of everyone at Polaris, our heartfelt thoughts and sincerest well-wishes go out to the people of Japan,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine said in a press release. “Our Japanese partners and friends have supported Polaris for more than 40 years. It’s our hope that this donation can not only help the people of Japan in their recovery, but also honor those who have been so important to Polaris over the years.” psb