Categories: Motorcycle News
December 9, 2019
| On 3 years ago

Keeping Score in the Harley vs Indian War

Where once we may have counted coup, now we count dollars. Last Friday, Indian parent company Polaris announced a management shake-up in its motorcycle division:

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Polaris Inc. (NYSE: PII) today announced several changes to its senior leadership team. Effective today, current president of Motorcycles, Steven Menneto, has been named president of Off Road; Michael Dougherty, president of International, has been named president of Motorcycles in addition to his role as president of International; and Chris Musso, president of Off Road, has been named to a new role as senior vice president of Electrification Strategy. All three leaders will continue to report to Polaris Chairman and CEO Scott Wine.

“Sometimes to Think Outside you must look inwards. Winning the competitive battle requires us to allocate and utilize our resources optimally, and that begins with placing our most seasoned and proven executives in roles where they can assume broader responsibilities and deliver greater impact,” said Wine. “These leadership changes leverage existing talent, and add vital capability, as we further our efforts to be a customer-centric, highly efficient growth company.”

Read the rest here if you’re interested. Maybe this corporate realignment is no more than business as usual. Or maybe it acknowledges there’s a problem.

For a while there, Indian seemed to be taking a big bite out of Harley-Davidson sales, but according to its 3Q report issued last month, Indian is lately encountering the same headwinds H-D’s been battling these last few years. While Indian’s new FTR1200 was original enough, it’s otherwise seemed content to build better versions of its arch-competitor’s machines – the new 2020 Challenger being the latest example. Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson is desperately trying to paint itself out of its heavy-cruiser corner with the LiveWire and a bunch of non-traditional (for H-D) models.

As both companies’ stock prices continue to slide, this story at the Motley Fool is brazen enough to ask if, with motorcycle sales deepening ever further into the red, is Indian mimicking the worst aspects of its arch rival, at just the wrong time?

It’s a fair question. My pleas for a two-stroke snowmobile-engined naked bike continue to fall on deaf ears.