Last night, at midnight, Polaris Industries Inc. issued a press release announcing that the company “will immediately begin winding down its Victory Motorcycles brand and related operations. 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.”
Polaris, a well known snowmobile and All Terrain Vehicle manufacturer based in Medina, Minnesota, started selling Victory Motorcycles in 1998 at the height of a boom in sales of Harley-Davidson bikes. In 2011, Polaris bought the rights to the Indian brand and began manufacturing Indian Motorcycles. Polaris will continue to manufacture Indians and Slingshots. Slingshots are three wheeled, reverse tricycles that Polaris calls “Three-wheeled roadsters.”
Polaris announced that discontinuing Victory will allow the company to concentrate on its Indian brand, which the company thinks has better worldwide recognition. Polaris will continue to build Indians at its plants in Spirit Lake, Iowa and Spearfish, South Dakota. The company builds Slingshots in Huntsville, Alabama.
Polaris announced, “Several factors influenced today’s announcement. Victory has struggled to establish the market share needed to succeed and be profitable. The competitive pressures of a challenging motorcycle market have increased the headwinds for the brand. Given the significant additional investments required for Victory to launch new global platforms that meet changing consumer preferences, and considering the strong performance and growth potential of Indian Motorcycle, the decision to more narrowly focus Polaris’ energy and investments became quite clear.”
In a supplementary announcement, Polaris said the “decision to enter the heavyweight motorcycle market in 1998 stemmed from a desire to further diversify the company’s product lines.” At the time, the market for big, American made bikes seemed strong and the only competition was Harley. But the market for these bikes collapsed. “Sales of Victory peaked in 2012 and has steadily declined over the subsequent years In 2015, Victory represented only three percent of total Polaris sales; at retail, Victory dealers, on average, sold only about 20 units per year.”
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors,” Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine said in the press release. “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.”