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Polaris

Alt-Rock Cruisers: BMW targets American brand’s market

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by Jack Baruth from Hagerty.com

BMW R18 meets Indian Challenger and Harley Heritage Classic

The slightly ridiculous 1800cc, two-cylinder, leather-saddlebag, CHiPs-windshielded cruiser I’m trying to force through six stopped lanes of Los Angeles traffic can’t be taken as anything but an admission on the part of the Bayerische Motoren Werke that Harley-Davidson knows

a) what boys like;
b) what men want …

in America, anyway.

CLICK HERE To Read a comprehensive Road Test & Review of the cruiser models from the 3 motorcycle brands.

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Gevin Fax Blazes Her Own Trail

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by Emily Chavous from russbrown.com

Whether riding a motorcycle or challenging norms, Gevin Fax is no stranger to blazing trails.

She says, “I think this is the best, most wonderful country in the world, but we are not flawless. I want women to not sell themselves short. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We are more possible than we could ever imagine.”

“Everybody kept telling me my life was going to change after I bought the Harley. Let me tell you something: Everything changed.”

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Polaris factory decisions controlled by Supply Chain Bottlenecks

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By Bob Tita from https://www.wsj.com

Supply Chain Bottlenecks Drive Factory Decisions at This Maker of Boats, Motorcycles, ATVs.

Polaris is changing manufacturing processes on the fly to adapt to parts shortages; ATVs missing seats, snowmobiles without shocks.

Polaris is juggling 30 or so supply-chain constraints for its ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats and utility terrain vehicles.

Like other manufacturers struggling with wobbly supply chains, sports-vehicle maker Polaris Inc. is deciding what to produce based on what parts it has on hand.

Polaris is changing its manufacturing and sales strategies on the fly to cope with shortages of materials and parts and an unreliable global transportation system that has disrupted precise production planning.

The company said it is juggling 30 or so supply-chain constraints for its all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, boats and off-road utility vehicles. Polaris changes its plans sometimes daily for what it produces. The company switches models for a while as supply-and-logistics managers scrounge for parts and materials for other models it is unable to build.

When there aren’t enough seats in the supply pipeline to produce four-seat versions of utility terrain vehicles because of a shortage of foam padding, for example, Polaris shifts production to two-seat or three-seat models. When more seats become available, factories circle back to four-seat models or add the missing seats to vehicles that have already been assembled.

“If you’re mixing and matching, eventually you’ll attain a good product mix,” said Kenneth Pucel, operations chief for the Medina, Minn.-based company.

Companies spent decades conditioning their supply chains to deliver just enough components and materials to match production schedules to hold down costs for storing parts. The absence of backup stocks of parts left manufacturers more exposed if a few large suppliers couldn’t deliver on time.

Tight markets typically provide opportunities for some companies to siphon customers away from competitors. But retail dealers say the supply-chain disruptions, transportation bottlenecks and labor shortages for manufacturers are now so pervasive that it is hard for anyone to capitalize. Polaris dealers sold out and the company couldn’t resupply them at their normal levels; instead, customers are now placing deposits on orders sent to factories.

Polaris shipped out some snowmobiles to dealers without shock absorbers and had dealers install them later when supplies recovered.

Chris Watts, owner of America’s Motor Sports dealership in Nashville, Tenn., said he carries Polaris and other brands. But his stocks of those brands are mostly depleted as well. “Customers are buying whatever they can get their hands on,” Mr. Watts said.

Like many manufacturers, Polaris had an unexpected surge in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. When restaurants, movie theaters and fitness centers closed, consumers shifted their spending to boats, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and other outdoor vehicles. Polaris’s retail sales in North America last year grew by 25% from 2019 and increased by 70% in the first quarter from last year.

Polaris, which last year had sales of $7 billion, has a leading share in off-road vehicles with about 40% of the North American market, according to industry analysts.

Before the pandemic, Polaris could increase orders to its parts suppliers when needed. But this time, suppliers were less responsive. After a weekslong shutdown of factories last spring to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, stocks on hand were depleted. Making matters worse were clogged ocean ports, the freak winter storm that struck Texas in February and a ship blocking the Suez Canal that delayed vessels hauling shipping containers with Polaris’s parts and products from Asia.

Polaris said it devised workarounds to ease the company’s reliance on the hardest-to-get components, including semiconductor chips used in vehicle gauges. The company said its engineers redesigned the gauges on the fly to operate with different chip sets that are more readily available than the chips the company had been using.

When the supply of foam for seats tightened following the storm in Texas in February, Polaris built vehicles without seats for weeks and installed them later when resin for making plastic foam became available again.

About one-third of the vehicles coming off the company’s assembly lines are being held back until missing parts arrive, the company said. That is about twice the volume of new vehicles that typically need to be reworked.

The availability of shock absorbers has been particularly erratic. When shocks for snowmobiles ran out during the fall production season, Polaris shipped some snowmobiles to dealers without them and sent the shocks later for the dealers to install.

“It wasn’t efficient from a cost standpoint, but it bought us time,” Chief Executive Michael Speetzen said.

Shock absorbers for single-seat all-terrain vehicles became so scarce late last year that production managers at the Roseau, Minn., plant switched to a two-seat variant of the four-wheel motorcycles instead that used different but available suspension components. The production lines at the factory that welded metal frames and produced plastic moldings for ATVs were reset overnight to allow production of the two-seat models to begin the following morning.

“You pivot away from parts shortages. Our team is good at building what we can,” said Mr. Pucel.

Mr. Pucel said at least 10% of the company’s suppliers have been under stress since the pandemic, often struggling to obtain enough materials from their own suppliers or to come up with the money needed to purchase additional equipment to increase production. He said the number of suppliers struggling would be greater if Polaris hadn’t culled underperforming companies from its supplier base a couple of years before the pandemic.

Polaris has intervened to purchase equipment and materials for some suppliers in exchange for reduced prices. When production of plastic resin in Texas stopped because of the February storm, Polaris allocated some of its own resin to its suppliers.

In anticipation of extended higher demand, Polaris is expanding its Monterrey, Mexico, plant where some of its most popular utility terrain vehicle are assembled. The company is increasing boat production at its Elkhart, Ind., plant and reopening another in Syracuse, Ind. It has hired about 1,000 more employees in the past year, a 7% increase in the workforce.

Maintenance on equipment and rush jobs to realign assembly lines to produce different models often happen overnight or on weekends. Disruptions in production and the social-distancing procedures in plants because of Covid-19 have been rough on employees.

“The whole organization has been on high alert,” CEO Speetzen said. “It’s one of the things I worry about.”

Which Three-Wheeler Fits Your Style?

By General Posts

We offer a brief history of the Three-wheeled vehicle, and take a guess at the lifestyle each fits best.

In 2007, BRP put its three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder on the market and sold 2500 units in the U.S. By 2015, it had sold 1 million units globally. In 2017, it estimated the U.S. three-wheel industry to be good for approximately 40,000 sales a year, and that industry includes competition from historic names like Harley-Davidson and Morgan. Some bikers scoff at the three-legged mechanical portmanteau called an autocycle, but they’re here to stay; in 2020, BRP more than doubled its 2019 volume in the U.S.

Maybe you’re considering joining the growing crowd but aren’t sure which saddle to throw a leg over, here is a brief history of three-wheelers and the people who love them.

Click Here to Read this Photo Feature Article on Bikernet.

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CEO Scott Wine to leave Polaris Inc to lead CNH Industrial

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from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Wine joined Polaris in 2008 as CEO and was elected as Chairman of the Board in 2013.

Polaris Inc on Wednesday announced that Chairman and CEO Scott Wine will leave the company to assume the CEO role at CNH Industrial, the maker of Case and New Holland agricultural equipment.

Wine joined Polaris in 2008 as CEO and was elected as Chairman of the Board in 2013. He will remain in his current role at Polaris through the end of the year. Transition plans will be announced at a later date.

During his time as CEO, Polaris grew from a $1.9 billion organization to a nearly $7 billion global Powersports company, the company said in a statement.

“For the last 12 years, I have had the extraordinary honor of leading the best team in Powersports, and it is incredibly rewarding to reflect on all that we have accomplished together,” said Wine.

“I leave with complete confidence that Polaris’ future is bright. I also want to offer my sincere thanks to my incredibly talented colleagues and to the Polaris Board for their guidance and leadership during my tenure.”

“Scott has been an exceptional leader for Polaris. During his tenure, Polaris grew from a strong Minnesota company into a global leader in the Powersports market—more than tripling sales and vaulting Polaris into the Fortune 500,” said Polaris’ Lead Independent Director John Wiehoff.

In the announcement of Wine’s departure, Polaris reaffirmed financial guidance for 2020 and said sales were on track to increase 2 to 3%. Adjusted net income for 2020 is expected to be in the range of $7.15 to $7.30 share, up from $6.32 a share in 2019, the company said.

Polaris Announces Partnership with Zero Motorcycles to Co-Develop Electric Vehicles

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Zero Motorcycles Taps Polaris to Make Electric Off-Road Vehicles and Snowmobiles

The electric motorcycle industry is far from being as lucrative as the automobile one. Despite the efforts made by startups to make electric two-wheelers popular, established bike makers are still a long way from joining the fun, with Harley-Davidson being so far the only one risking to go down this path.

Zero Motorcycles is one of the startups we mentioned, one of the oldest and arguably the most successful. On the market since 2006, Zero made a name for itself by selling affordable (when compared to what else is out there in this segment), high-performance electric motorcycles – yet the 9 or so models currently available are just the beginning.

How would you feel about some incredible machines, powersports-destined ones, that could make use of electricity?

Starting 2021, that’s exactly what we’ll get – Zero is joining the electric off-road vehicles and snowmobiles game. It won’t do it alone, but together with Polaris, after the two announced the signing of a 10-year agreement.

More to the point, Zero will develop the powertrain technology (hardware and the electronic software), while Polaris will handle the development and manufacture of the rest of the vehicles.

“This revolutionary partnership is bringing together two incredibly talented teams aimed at dramatically expanding the electric options in powersports,” said in a statement Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel.

“Our EV expertise and millions of miles of real-world, rubber-meets-the-road EV experience, coupled with Polaris’ broad product portfolio, scale, supply chain and market leadership, makes this a game-changer for every powersports enthusiast.”

For now, there are virtually no details on how many vehicles we’re talking about here, let alone their capabilities. We do know the first jointly-developed product should surface by the end of 2021, and it will be followed by an electric vehicle option within each of Polaris’ core product segments by the middle of the decade.

Polaris teaming with Zero Motorcycles on electric snowmobiles and off-road vehicles

by Gary Gastelu from https://www.foxbusiness.com

Powersports giant to buy batteries and motors from the California company

Polaris has signed an exclusive 10-year agreement with Zero Motorcycles to use its battery powertrain technology on a line of electric snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

The deal with the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based motorcycle company will manifest with a new vehicle scheduled to go on sale late next year.

Polaris currently markets GEM neighborhood electric vehicles and an electric version of its Ranger utility task vehicle (UTV), but the new vehicles will expand into performance segments.

“We’ve sold over a billion dollars worth of electric vehicles in the last 10 years, but none of it’s been high-performance powersports vehicles,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine told FOX Business.

“They’ve been more in our adjacent markets business to really as we embarked on this ramped-up strategy concept. We looked in across the globe and who could be the best partner for us.”

Wine said he was confident Polaris, which makes most of the internal combustion engines it uses, could have developed the new electric drivetrains, but that he decided it wasn’t worth the investment when Zero already had proven tech that offered high power motors and power-dense battery packs that are perfect for the space constraints of the vehicles Polaris specializes in.

Zero sells between 2,000 and 10,000 motorcycles in annual sales, according to company CEO Sam Paschel, and has a lineup of off-road and street bikes with up to 223 miles of range per charge.

Polaris isn’t taking an equity stake in Zero, which will be acting as a supplier under the arrangement. Wine didn’t reveal what the first vehicle would be, but said it will be a unique electric model to kick off the arrangement, which will be followed by electric versions of its other vehicles.

“Over time, we expect the vision to be that we’ll be able to offer our customers and dealers the choice of an electric or internal combustion engine powertrain,” he said.

Wine added that he used to be a naysayer about electric vehicles in this segment, due to power, price and range limitations – the 30 hp Ranger EV sells for $12,000 and can only go 50 miles between charges, for instance – but that the Zero powertrains address all these concerns. However, he doesn’t see Polaris becoming a primarily electric brand anytime soon.

“I think there’s a very good chance that it’s a material and meaningful part of our business, but I doubt it’ll be a majority of our business,” Wine said.

Along with the snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, Polaris-owned Indian is working on an electric street motorcycle. Wine can’t say for sure when it will go on sale, but that it’s still a few years out and not yet part of the agreement with Zero motorcycles, although the relationship could evolve to include it in the coming years.

Indian has introduced an electric motorcycle for kids with a 15 mph top speed through a collaboration with Razor that’s modeled after its flat-track race bike and sells for $749.99

Indian motorcycle sales surge 37% following rollout of Challenger

By General Posts

by Carrigan Miller and Mark Reilly from https://www.bizjournals.com

Polaris Inc. stock is up sharply Tuesday morning after the maker of ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles reported better-than-expected profits for the fourth quarter, driven in part by the rollout of a new Indian motorcycle.

The Medina, Minnesota-based manufacturer posted income of $98.9 million for the quarter, or $1.58 per share, up from $91.4 million, or $1.47 per share the year before. Adjusted earnings were $1.83 per share, ahead of Wall Street average estimates of $1.79.

Sales were $1.73 billion, up 7% from the year-ago period but at the low end of Wall Street estimates. Sales growth was led by the company’s Indian Motorcycle division, which saw revenue increase by 37% to $116 million as Indian debuted the Challenger, a heavyweight touring bike.

Indian is the vintage motorcycle brand that Polaris is marketing as an alternative to those sold by Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. The Challenger is indicative of how Polaris is positioning Indian. Upon the rollout of the Challenger in October, motorsports industry writers were comparing it to Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide, a big touring bike that represented a sizable portion of Harley’s sales mix back in 2013, when the iconic motorcycle manufacturer put Road Glide on a hiatus that lasted all of one year.

Indian unveils new Challenger lineup for 2020

As for Polaris, investors liked what they saw. Shares of Polaris closed up almost 6% Tuesday. The company may look particularly good in comparison to rival Harley-Davidson, which reported its lowest quarterly sales in years and missed Wall Street estimates by 6%, Barron’s reports. Shares of Harley (NYSE: HOG) closed down about 3% at $33.79.

Sales in off-road vehicles and snowmobiles, still the company’s biggest business, grew by 7% as the fortunes for ATVs and snowmobiles diverged. Sales of off-roading vehicles like the RZR and Ranger rose 13%, snowmobile sales were down 10 percent.

Boats, the company’s newest business unit that includes the recreational and sport boat brands of Marquis-Larson Boat Group of Pulaski, also saw a sales decline during the quarter, while clothing and aftermarket parts rose.

For the full year, Polaris posted earnings of $323 million, or $5.20 per diluted share, on sales of $6.8 billion.

“In 2019, we delivered strong operational performance across Polaris (NYSE: PII), especially productivity and delivery, and we expect further gains to create value for customers and shareholders in the year ahead,” Polaris CEO Scott Wine said in a statement.

Polaris said it projected growth between 2% and 4% in 2020, with earnings in the range of $6.80 to $7.05 per diluted share. “While the negative impact of tariffs remains a significant headwind on an annualized basis, the year-over-year impact is expected to be minimal,” the company said.

Polaris Off Road and Diesel Brothers Support America’s First Responders

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Polaris Off Road and Diesel Brothers Support America’s First Responders Through United We Ride Custom-Vehicle Program

Polaris Off Road, the world leader in powersports and off-road innovation, today announced United We Ride – a partnership and fundraising effort with the Diesel Brothers that honors our nation’s military, police and fire departments. The program is highlighted by a Diesel Brothers’ customized series of recently launched Polaris machines. Each machine has been custom-made to honor a specific branch of American “first responders” – the RZR PRO XP Ultimate for policemen and policewomen, the RANGER CREW XP 1000 for firemen and firewomen, and the GENERAL XP 4 1000 for members of the U.S. military.

Polaris United We Ride custom U.S. military, law enforcement and first responder machines. (Photo: Business Wire)

The program is powered by a national voting process where consumers vote for their favorite build, and voting totals determine the donation amount from Polaris to each of the program’s three charity beneficiaries – $25,000 to first place, $15,000 to second and $10,000 to third place. By casting their vote, consumers are automatically entered for the chance to win an all-new RANGER CREW XP 1000 with Ride Command, RZR PRO XP Ultimate or a GENERAL XP 4 1000 DELUXE.

“We are forever grateful for the commitment and sacrifice made by members of our military and first responders, and we are proud to continue our 15-year tradition of providing vehicles for their duties and their well-deserved free time,” said Kyle Duea, vice president of Off-Road Vehicle Marketing, Polaris. “Partnering with the Diesel Brothers to customize our machines and drive awareness of these charities is merely one way we can show our appreciation, while honoring their daily efforts to protect us, our communities and our freedom.”

The United We Ride program will be donating to the following charities:

  • Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) – Provides resources to support the families and co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty as they cope with the tragic loss and work to rebuild their lives.
  • The Gary Sinise First RespondersFoundation – Provides critical funding for emergency relief, training, and essential equipment to ensure our heroic firefighters have the resources they need.
  • Your Grateful Nation – Provides support, guidance and resources to transition special operations veterans into their next successful career.

“The whole Diesel Brothers’ family has a deep respect for those who selflessly protect, serve and care for this great country,” said Dave Sparks, Diesel Sellerz. “That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to work with our most valued industry partners at Polaris to build the unique UTVs intended to honor the hard-working men and women of the U.S. military, law enforcement, and first responders. This is just a small token of our gratitude for their hard work and dedicated service.”

Customers are encouraged to vote for United We Ride at Polaris.com/UnitedWeRide until December 22. For the last 15 years, Polaris’ Commercial, Government and Defense team has proudly partnered with military and public safety organizations across the country to design and upfit Polaris vehicles for professional use. More information on Polaris’ military vehicles, turn-key law enforcement and fire-fighting vehicles, and grant assistance programs can be found on Polaris.com/Gov.

To find more information about Polaris Off-Road Vehicles and Polaris Engineered Accessories, visit Polaris.com/OffRoad.

Does Indian Motorcycle Have a Harley-Davidson Problem?

By General Posts

by Rich Duprey from https://www.fool.com/

Sales remained aloft longer than its rival, but now even its sales are falling.

As much as falling motorcycle sales at Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) have been attributed to its core customer aging out of the market while the next generation of riders seems uninterested in buying the big bikes it produces, Indian Motorcycle sidestepped most of the same pitfalls even though it produces many of the same kinds of motorcycles as Harley does.

Since being resurrected from bankruptcy by Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) and returned to the market in 2014, Indian has been a steady performer with retail sales often rising in the double-digit percentages. That has allowed it to steal market share from Harley, whose sales often contracted at similar percentages.

Yet with Polaris’ third-quarter earnings report released last month, investors may have to accept that Indian Motorcycle now has its own Harley-Davidson problem.

A worsening sales decline
Polaris Industries is not transparent at all when it comes to telling you how its motorcycle business is performing. Where Harley breaks down sales and shipments by geographic region and type of motorcycle, Polaris provides vague percentage increases or declines, maybe calling out a model once in a while, but never giving investors any real insight into how Indian’s various motorcycles are performing.

What we do know is that despite double- and even triple-digit sales growth early on, Indian Motorcycle sales are now quickly spiraling down. Even as Polaris obscures the actual numbers, a mid-teen-percentage decline in retail sales that far eclipses the contraction of the broader motorcycle market suggests that this is becoming a big problem for the bike maker.

Worse, the downdraft is accelerating. In the second quarter, Polaris said Indian retail sales were down by almost 10%, while in the first quarter they were down by high single-digit rates. In last year’s fourth quarter they were down by low double-digit amounts, which was a big drop since they had been positive the quarter before.

That doesn’t bode well for when Polaris reports results the next time around. Even though the bar has been lowered considerably on sales, there’s no reason to think it will be able to rebound — precisely because Indian is still making the same kinds of heavy, big-bore bikes as Harley.

It just released its newest touring motorcycle, the 2020 Challenger, that houses its bigger, more muscular liquid-cooled PowerPlus engine that evokes images of Harley’s Road Glide.

Looking to reverse direction
Certainly both bike makers are hoping to change the equation. Harley has gone all-in on electric motorcycles — a field Polaris rejects, saying they’re unprofitable — along with two new styles it recently unveiled that represent a big change for the bike maker: the Bronx streetfighter and the Pan America adventure bike. They’re smaller, lighter, and meant for a different kind of riding than typified by Harley’s cruisers.

Polaris has also introduced a new bike, the FTR 1200, which was inspired by its racing team’s success on the flat-track circuit. While many enthusiasts had hoped for a street version of the FTR 750 that was tearing up the track, Polaris came out with a somewhat bigger, more powerful bike that it also hopes changes the conversation about its products.

But the introduction of the FTR 1200 was flawed in several respects. Polaris was late to market with the bike, so it missed a good part of the sales season, and then misjudged demand for the different models, believing more buyers would want the base model when in reality there was higher demand for the race replica version.

The new model helped lift international sales in the quarter, but it may be a while before we see any impact here at home. Motorcycle sales typically dry up during the winter months, and it’s still unknown what kind of demand will be there come the spring.

The outlook isn’t bright for biking
Polaris Industries, unlike Harley, is more than just a motorcycle maker. It also makes side-by-side recreational vehicles, snowmobiles, utility vehicles, and more recently boats. They help the powersports vehicle maker smooth out sales over the year. And motorcycles only account for 9% of total revenue.

Yet with motorcycle sales deepening even further into the red, Indian is mimicking the worst aspects of its rival at just the wrong time, and its problem could only get worse.

Harley-Davidson’s stock falls after KeyBanc turns bearish, citing competition from Polaris’s Challenger bike

By General Posts

Shares of Harley-Davidson Inc. HOG, -1.22% fell 0.7% in morning trading Monday, after KeyBanc Capital analyst Brett Andress turned bearish on the motorcycle maker, citing concerns over competition from Polaris Inc.’s PII, +1.85% Indian brand of bikes.

Andress cut his rating on Harley’s stock to underweight, after being at sector weight since August 2017, and set his price target at $33, which is 15.5% below current levels.

“Indian’s new Challenger bike is aimed squarely at [Harley’s] dominant Road Glide ([about] 80% share of 32K-unit market),” Andress wrote in a note to clients. “Indian introduced the Challenger bike on Oct. 29 to immediate fanfare and, on paper, the bike surpasses its competition in almost every important metric (primarily a new liquid-cooled engine), a setup we view as likely to disrupt a rather complacent status quo.”

Polaris’s stock rose 0.9% in morning trading. Andress estimates the new competition could drive an earnings-per-share headwind of about 25 cents. Harley’s stock has rallied 14.5% year to date, while Polaris shares have surged 30.4% and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.37% has gained 23.0%.