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Jan. 19, 2009 – Hot News

January 19, 2009
Filed under News

Indian returns to the market

Iconic brand Indian Motorcycles has returned to the marketplace with a small dealer network that could triple by this summer.
Indian Motorcycles General Manager Chris Bernauer told Powersports Business the company expects to have 15-20 additional dealers open by July. That’s in addition to the seven that have already opened across the nation. Those dealers in the first week of January were selling 2009 Indian Chiefs, the first production motorcycles to come out of the company’s Kings Mountain, N.C., facility.
“We’ve all been focused on that goal for quite awhile now,” Bernauer said of the company’s nearly five-year process of product development, testing and dealer development, “so to reach that milestone and open up some beautiful dealerships across the country and dip our toe into that water is definitely a good thing.”
Indian Motorcycles was relaunched after Chairman Stephen Julius purchased the trademark rights in 2004. The previous reincarnation failed after that company’s ownership sank more than $130 million into the venture.
The leaders of the new Indian have established far different objectives than the prior company, seeking to grow at a much more modest pace.
“This is all about slow, organic growth and building a small, distinguished business, not building a 20,000- or 30,000- or 40,000-unit business,” Bernauer said.
In fact, Indian Motorcycles is set to produce 750 motorcycles in its first year. Bernauer says initial feedback the company has received is demand will outpace supply in this initial year.
“We’re very enthusiastic about our future and our ability to meet our business targets,” he said.
To accomplish those targets, Indian has worked with dealers to open up stores in Charlotte, N.C., Paducah, Ky., Omaha, Neb., Detroit, Phoenix, Wichita, Kan., and Pittsburgh.
“I’ve got to tell you, given what’s going on in the world right now,” Bernauer said, “I’m very excited about our product but I’m also extremely pleased with the quality of people we’ve been able to bring in the door as our dealer partners.”
Indian’s first production models include four versions of the Chief. The company also has done some preliminary work on its next major model platform, the Scout.
“We will do some things with the Chief platform between now and the time the Scout comes out to keep it exciting and fresh as well,” Bernauer said.

20-Club provider changes its name

The industry’s largest 20 club provider, the RPM Group, is changing its name to the Assurant Solutions 20-Clubs.
“The change has always been in the plan since the purchase of the RPM Group by Assurant Solutions in April of 2007, it’s just occuring faster than we originally anticipated,”?said Sam Dantzler, the division president.
“The original name change was to be three years out from the purchase date. We’re just doing it sooner rather than later for branding purposes and to show Assurant Solutions as a comprehensive support provider for the dealer base.”
Previous to Assurant Solutions ownership, the majority owners of the RPM Group were Mark Tkach and Bill Coulter, the co-owners of RideNow Powersports Management Group.

Harley-Davidson guarantees trade-in value for Sportster

Harley-Davidson will guarantee the value of its Sportster motorcycles by backing their trade-in value, the company reported in a news release.
Harley riders who either buy a new Sportster or trade in their recently purchased Sportster between Dec. 26-March 31 will receive the original MSRP value when they trade up to a Harley-Davidson Big Twin or VRSC motorcycle.
Mark-Hans Richer, Harley-Davidson senior vice president and chief marketing officer, says the guarantee is driven by the motorcycles’ strong value.
“Our strong trade-in values allow us to offer something nobody is likely to match,” he said in the release.

Two-wheel sales up in Canada through October

Contrary to the general economic downturn, the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council reported its motorcycle & scooter sales numbers across Canada, year-to-date for October showed another 8 percent increase.
“The motorcycle industry is not immune to the economic downturn, but the resilience of the market this year reinforces the fact that motorcycles and scooters are more relevant than ever,” Bob Ramsay, president of the council, said in a press release.
Ramsay added that, “at the peak of the 2008 spring/summer selling season motorcycle and scooter retail sales were up almost 13 percent over year-to-date sales in 2007. In fact, scooter sales alone year-to-date for June 2008 were up 22 percent compared to 2007.”

American Honda withdraws from AMA road racing

American Honda will withdraw Team Honda from the 2009 AMA Roadracing Series, citing the current global economic situation as the main factor for the decision.
Honda will continue to participate on the Erion Honda Racing and Corona Honda Racing teams. The Honda Red Bull Racing team will return for the 2009 Supercross and National Motocross season with a full roster of factory riders.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation settles copyright lawsuit

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) came to a settlement in the copyright infringement lawsuit against Oregon State University and Stephen Garets, operators of the Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Program, according to an MSF press release.
MSF President Tim Buche stated, “We are pleased with the settlement in which the integrity of MSF’s intellectual property rights was acknowledged. It’s unfortunate that a lawsuit was necessary to reach a resolution of this dispute.”
MSF had offered to settle its intellectual property claims on substantially the same terms in October 2006 and resorted to the lawsuit after its offer was rejected without a counter offer.

MIC, other groups ask EPA for more ethanol tests

Fourteen organizations, including the Motorcycle Industry Council, recently called for “unbiased and comprehensive testing” before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permits the use of mid-level ethanol blends in engines.
According to an article in Oil & Gas Journal, other groups that were part of the petition include the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Lung Association and the Engine Manufacturers Association.
Calling themselves an informal coalition, the groups expressed concern about air quality, engine compatibility and safety.
The letter contends the test results that exist suggest mid-level ethanol blends might be incompatible with current motor vehicle and non-road equipment engines, might cause emission control devices or systems to fail, might defeat engines’ safety features and could lead to significantly higher emissions during the engines’ lifespan. psb
“Collectively, our organizations strongly believe that this issue should not be part of the rulemaking proposal for the revised Renewable Fuel Standard under the [2007 Energy Independence and Security Act],” the letter continued. “The mid-level ethanol blend issue should be discussed at length, but the vehicle should be a separate advance notice of proposed rulemaking.”

Sparta starts leasing program with Harley-Davidson dealers

Sparta Commercial Services has started a new commercial fleet leasing program exclusively for Harley-Davidson dealers, the nationwide financial services company said in a press release.
Sparta said it has already concluded its first transaction under the new program as well as exceeded the number of Harley dealers it originally had anticipated using the program.
“While credit has become more restrictive due to the changes in the financial markets, Sparta is pleased to move forward with this new program to assist our dealers,” Anthony Havens, CEO of Sparta Commercial Services, said in a press release.
Sparta offers financing and leasing products through a network of more than 2,000 dealers and a Municipal Leasing Program for governmental agencies that utilize motorcycles and other equipment for law-enforcement activities.

New dealership training opportunity launched

Peter Jones & Associates and IBSG Dealer Services have launched PowerSport University.net. This Web site is designed to provide dealers with training for $99 per month for the entire dealership.
Dealers will be able to sign up and register their students online. The only equipment needed is a phone and a computer. Classes will cover all aspects of powersports operations and will be appropriate for all team members to participate in.
“We looked around the industry and found several other sources providing training but at much higher rates,” Jones, creator of PowerSport University, said in a press release. “We knew that in today’s market, dealers needed not only better quality training but also needed it at a reduced amount.”
If you’d like more information, call Jones at 904/742-3080 or visit the site at www.powersportuniversity.net.

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