Indian Motorcycles Sales Shot Up 17 Percent Last Spring

Indian finds the sweet spot between old school and new school, and it pays off.

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According to some, motorcycling is dying. Millennials are slower to adopt motorcycling than previous generations and Harley-Davidson sales are down which surely spells the end of the entire industry.

However, some sales figures say otherwise. Indian Motorcycles, America’s first motorcycle company, saw an impressive 17 percent surge in sales last Spring. Not only that, but Indian now makes up for 16 percent of the portfolio for its parent company Polaris. If motorcycling is dying, Indian sure isn’t feeling it. For that matter, neither are BMW nor Royal Enfield.

The growth at Indian is in sharp contrast to that of Milwaukee rival Harley-Davidson. Harley sales were down 6.7 percent worldwide and 9.3 percent in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same time last year.

Local news outlet WCCO CBS Minnesota spoke with a few people at Indian to get an idea of what the brand is doing to see such growth in a shrinking industry. According to the president of motorcycles at Polaris Steve Menneto, it has a lot to do with the heritage of the Indian brand.

“It’s a brand that’s rich in its heritage and history, and I think that’s what’s adding a lot to our growth,” Menneto told WCCO. “It’s an exciting brand to be a part of.” But Harley-Davidson famously has heritage in spades and it’s the driving force of the whole brand, so what makes Indian different?

Polaris director of motorcycle operations at the Spirit Lake, Iowa production plant thinks it has something to do with the pride the workers put into the products. “We’ve got a great workforce, great facility, a lot of pride behind producing the product,” Dansby told WCCO.

Personally, I don’t think that tells the whole story. I think Indian is surging because it hit the nail on the head in terms of making good, desirable products at decent prices that appeal to the demographics the motorcycle industry needs to stay alive. Indian struck just the right blend of heritage with modern styling and engineering and it’s paying off in the sales figures.