Feather in the Polaris cap
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