Feather in the Po­laris cap

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By MARK HINCHLIFEE

JUST as Lexus is the lux­ury brand of Toy­ota, so will In­dian be the lux­ury brand of Vic­tory mo­tor­cy­cles.

But fans of the 110-yearold US icon might have to wait for the heavy­weight cruis­ers to hit Australia.

Ma­jor ATV man­u­fac­turer Po­laris, based in Min­neapo­lis, Min­nesota, bought the In­dian brand last year to sup­ple­ment its 11-year-old mo­tor­cy­cle brand Vic­tory which launched three years ago in Australia.

Vic­tory Australia spokesman Peter Har­vey says ‘‘only the best deal­ers will be In­dian deal­ers’’.

‘‘In­dian will be like our Lexus. Our pre­mium brand,’’ he says.

Po­laris is mak­ing In­dian Chief Clas­sic, Dark Horse and Vin­tage mod­els at a new plant in Spirit Lake, Min­nesota, just over a kilome­tre from their ATV and Vic­tory plant.

The elab­o­rate chrome and leather-tassled bikes are be­ing hand­made at a rate of just 15 a week, all for the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

Po­laris global sales vi­cepres­i­dent Mike Dougherty says Australia may not get the new-own­er­ship In­dian un­til the new mod­els are re- leased in about three years. How­ever, Mr Har­vey is more hopeful that Australia could get them as soon as next year, but is cau­tious about rush­ing into it. ‘‘We are the guardian of a tra­di­tional brand and we only get one go at it,’’ he says.

Mr Dougherty be­lieves the In­dian brand will add to sales, rather than take sales off Vic­tory.

‘‘Vic­tory is about per­for­mance and In­dian is a cruiser and very tra­di­tional. Can­ni­bal­ism be­tween the two brands will be min­i­mal,’’ he says. ‘‘Our re­search shows 75 per cent of Har­ley-David­son own­ers would buy an In­dian.’’

Po­laris is en­joy­ing sub­stan­tial growth in Australia, and was up 42 per cent last year to be a close third in ATV sales be­hind Honda and Yamaha.

Mr Dougherty says Australia and NZ are 13 per cent of their in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and rep­re­sent the com­pany’s largest vol­ume sub­sidiary in the world.

‘‘Australia will grow ten­fold in next five years,’’ he says. ‘‘The bike busi­ness is one of the key driv­ers’’.

While Vic­tory’s ATV sec­tion was up 13 per cent in Australia last year, its new Vic­tory mo­tor­cy­cle brand grew 50 per cent.

Vic­tory owns deal­er­ships in Syd­ney and Melbourne, and has deal­ers in Bris­bane and Perth.

Mr Har­vey says that in the next year they will open their own deal­er­ship in Bris­bane and have eight more deal­ers around the coun­try.

Po­laris es­tab­lished the Vic­tory brand in 1998 with the 1500cc crit­i­cally panned V9SC model and have never made a smaller mo­tor­cy­cle.

The brand launched in Australia al­most four years ago with a more ac­cepted line-up of bikes.

Their cur­rent range of mo­tor­cy­cles all fea­ture 1731cc V-twin en­gines; a sim­i­lar cylin­der con­fig­u­ra­tion to Har­ley-David­son.

In­dian Chief Clas­sic, Dark Horse and Vin­tage bikes will be the lux­ury arm of Vic­tory mo­tor­cy­cles

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