In­dian fu­ture

Why the death of Vic­tory is great news for In­dian

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Richard New­land

Vic­tory Mo­tor­cy­cles were the cow­boys of the Amer­i­can bike mar­ket. With steel guts, no roots, and no fear of the es­tab­lish­ment, they rode into town in 1998 and started a bat­tle that even they prob­a­bly never ex­pected to win. And, of course, they haven’t.

Last week par­ent com­pany Po­laris an­nounced the seem­ingly sud­den death of Vic­tory – but it was a well con­sid­ered move: “This de­ci­sion was not made on a whim,” says Steve Menneto, Pres­i­dent of Mo­tor­cy­cles at Po­laris, speaking to MCN last week, “it was painfully and care­fully thought out, and took over a year of dis­cus­sion.”

Although there’s a lot to mourn in the pass­ing of Vic­tory, there’s also cause for cel­e­bra­tion. “From the demise of Vic­tory, the big good news story is that In­dian will ben­e­fit from a wider prod­uct range, and is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent from what you’ve seen over the last three years,” con­tin­ues Menneto.

“Within the next two to five years there will a lot of growth – we’ll be close to dou­bling the In­dian range. There will be more in­vest­ment in the brand glob­ally and in the UK, we will add to the dealer net­work, and there is op­por­tu­nity now to make mar­ket­spe­cific prod­uct for Europe and for the US. For Europe that means bikes that are not cruiser/bag­ger/tour­ers.”

Vic­tory launched in 1998, aim­ing to be “a sig­nif­i­cant player” in the world heavy­weight mo­tor­cy­cle mar­ket, but the mar­ket has changed dra­mat­i­cally.

“It’s now tougher to be prof­itable, and that led to the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion to close Vic­tory,” ex­plains Menneto. “Over the course of the 18 years we had three years of prof­itabil­ity [2010/11/12], but the amount of in­vest­ment needed made it un­ten­able. It just doesn’t work at the vol­umes we had.” Vic­tory were sell­ing around 10,000 bikes glob­ally each year, and Menneto says: “You have to times that fig­ure by two or three to have a sus­tain­able, vi­able busi­ness.”

But without Vic­tory, the phe­nom­e­nal re­turn of In­dian may never have hap­pened. “The learn­ings we made from Vic­tory have led to the suc­cess of In­dian. But we couldn’t have In­dian go into the per­for­mance mar­ket­place, nor have Vic­tory go into her­itage. Now we have one brand with In­dian, we have the abil­ity to go down the per­for­mance path, which is rich in In­dian’s his­tory.”

Race for vic­tory

Vic­tory’s demise also means the end of Project 156, the naked sports­bike that as­saulted Pikes Peak, and the elec­tric Vic­tory rac­ers that com­peted there and at the Isle of Man TT.

But there is some re­demp­tion. Menneto said: “The par­tic­u­lar Vic­tory bikes that have al­ready been de­vel­oped and raced will not trans­fer over, but we will pick up the ban­ner and run with elec­tric for In­dian, and bikes like Project 156 will be part of the fu­ture for the brand, too.

A one-horse town?

But while the mar­ket wasn’t big enough for two nascent Amer­i­can brands, that doesn’t mean Po­laris won’t ex­pand the mo­tor­cy­cle di­vi­sion again. “The In­dian busi­ness is grow­ing rapidly and is in profit, so we are clearly not get­ting out of In­dian. We have in­creased the bud­get over the com­bined fig­ure for Vic­tory and In­dian, so we can go faster with In­dian. When you imag­ine where In­dian would be to­day if they had been in con­tin­u­ous pro­duc­tion, we’d be in a lot of mar­kets with a lot of dif­fer­ent types of mo­tor­cy­cle.

“We also get asked ‘how long be­fore you get out of In­dian?’ In­dian is grow­ing rapidly, and is in profit, so we are clearly not get­ting out of In­dian.

“We will also tar­get growth through ac­qui­si­tion or part­ner­ship with brands that are a bet­ter fit than Vic­tory was. We are look­ing for a global op­por­tu­nity, one that’s not so re­liant on the North Amer­i­can mar­ket. I’m not go­ing to say which ones, but we know which ones would fit well. Our growth has been tremen­dous. From 2009 to 2016 we in­creased the size of the busi­ness ten­fold – and we’re just get­ting started.”

‘This de­ci­sion was care­fully thought out and took over a year of dis­cus­sion’ VIC­TORY PRES­I­DENT STEVE MENNETO

It might look like a cruiser to us, but the orig­i­nal Scouts were con­sid­ered sporty New In­dian 750 en­gine marks sport­ing re­turn The FTR750 flat­track race bike puts In­dian back on track

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.