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Polaris to end production of Spirit Lake-made Victory Motorcycles

Polaris to end production of Spirit Lake-made Victory Motorcycles

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa -- Assembly of Victory Motorcycles at Polaris Industries' Spirit Lake plant is coming to a screeching halt.

The Twin Cites-based manufacturer announced Monday it will immediately shut down production of the brand, which has been produced in the Iowa Great Lakes region since its launch in 1998.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors,” Polaris Chairman and CEO Scott Wine said in a 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."

Polaris spokesperson Megan Kathman said Monday there will be some job losses in Spirit Lake as a result of the Victory shutdown but declined to say how many positions would be lost. The reductions will come primarily through attrition and a reduction in the number of temporary workers, she said.

In a news release Monday, Polaris said it remains committed to the Spirit Lake plant, which will continue to make Indian brand motorcycles, an iconic brand Polaris acquired in 2011. The 400,000-square-foot plant, which employed, at last report, about 1,000 people, is the only Polaris site that make motorcycles.

Polaris also operates a Iowa Great Lakes plant in nearby Milford, where the product mix includes the Polaris Ranger and Rzr all-terrain vehicles and the Brutus utility vehicle.

Wine said Polaris will refocus its efforts on the Indian brand and its Slingshot, a sporty, three-wheeled vehicle that was initially assembled in Spirit Lake. Production later was shifted to a Polaris plant in Huntsville, Alabama.

The CEO said the Indian has more potential to grow than the Victory brand, which the company originally introduced to compete with the industry-leading Harley-Davidson brand.

But Polaris acknowledged it has lost money on the Victory brand three out of the last five years. Though its models generally were cheaper, the brand still had trouble competing with other heavyweight motorcycles. Victory sales peaked in 2012, a year after Polaris took ownership of the Indian brand. In 2015, Victory represented only 3 percent of total Polaris sales. On a retail level, Victory dealers, on average, sold only about 20 units per year.

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.

Kathman said all of the company's Victory dealers have been notified. Bak BMW Victory sold the motorcycles locally and Okoboji Motorcycles carried the brand in the Great Lakes area.

“Since inception, our teams have designed and produced nearly 60 Victory models that have been honored with 25 of the industry’s top awards,” Wine said. “The experience, knowledge, infrastructure and capability we’ve built in those 18 years gave us the confidence to acquire and develop the Indian Motorcycle brand, so I would like to express my gratitude to everyone associated with Victory Motorcycles and celebrate your many contributions.”

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