Polaris Shutting Down Victory Motorcycle Brand

Polaris Industries, a global producer of motorcycles and off-road vehicles, is pulling the plug on its Iowa-made Victory Motorcycles brand, the company announced Monday.

The brand launched in 1998 and attempted to compete head-to-head with Harley Davidson. Victory assembles its motorcycles at its Spirit Lake plant. It was not immediately clear how many local jobs would be impacted by Victory’s elimination.

In April 2011, Minnesota-based Polaris acquired Indian Motorcycle, the nation’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer.

“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 a news 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 1998, Wine said nearly 60 Victory models have been honored with 25 of the industry’s top awards. But he said the brand has struggled to maintain the market share “needed to succeed and be profitable.”

Today’s news was a total surprise at Okoboji Motorsports & Okoboji Indian Motorcycle in Spirit Lake.

“I had no idea. This caught us by surprise,” said manager Jon Jackson.

Victory Motorcycles are cheaper than Indians, Jackson said. But the Indian brand outsells its sister brand by about 11 times at the Spirit Lake shop, he said.

“Victory is competing against foreign bikes and being built in the United States, it’s hard to compete against a foreign counterpart.

Jackson said he felt bad for Victory fans, but noted that shops like his will continue to serve their needs with Indian products. He also expects the news to sting across north Iowa.

“It’s always been the home of Victory Motorcycles and it’s the new home of Indian Motorcycles,” he said. “I think it’s going to be kind of a hurtful thing for a lot of people who work here, people from here that know that brand is not going to be there anymore.”

Polaris will immediately begin winding down the brand, assisting dealers in liquidating existing inventories. The company will continue to produce parts for the next 10 years and will still provide warranty and service coverage to dealers and customers.

Wine’s statement said the company will focus more of its motorcycle efforts on the iconic Indian Motorcycle brand, which he believes has greater potential than Victory.

“This decision will improve the profitability of Polaris and our global motorcycle business, and will materially improve our competitive stance in the industry,” he said. “Our focus is on profitable growth, and in an environment of finite resources, this move allows us to optimize and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands.”

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