Polaris and Brammo: The Next Chapter

enertia2

On January 15, 2015 Polaris issued this press release:

Polaris Acquires Electric Motorcycle Business from Brammo

Acquisition Includes Certain Assets, Technology, and Trademarks
January 15, 2015 06:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) today announced it has acquired the electric motorcycle business of Brammo Inc. In addition, Polaris is acting as a leading investor in a recapitalization of Brammo that enables the company to focus exclusively on the design, development and integration of electric vehicle powertrains.

“We anticipate a return on these investments and believe the new alignment brings us that much closer to delivering world-class electric solutions across our products.”

Going forward, the two companies will leverage Polaris’ leading position in the global powersports industry to market a variety of electric vehicles utilizing Brammo’s award winning lithium-ion electric drivetrain technology, while freeing Brammo to continue developing its innovative electric vehicle powertrains. Brammo supplies these products, including the Brammo Power™ battery pack and Brammo Power™ vehicle management systems, globally to a wide range of OEMs. As part of this transaction, Polaris will utilize the assets acquired to begin manufacturing electric motorcycles in the second half of 2015 at its Spirit Lake, IA facility.

“We have enjoyed our involvement with Brammo Motorcycles over the past three years, and our excitement about their industry-leading lithium-ion electric drivetrain technology has increased commensurate with their improvements in cost and performance. Polaris and Brammo share a goal of adding the most advanced and highest capability electric solutions to Polaris’ portfolio of leading powersports products,” said Scott Wine, Polaris Chairman and CEO. The agreement allows both companies to be more agile during the development cycle with clear accountability toward selling products that exemplify Polaris’ standard for delivering world class vehicles.

Polaris has been a strategic investor and partner with Brammo since 2011. During that time, the companies have collaborated on a number of projects in motorcycles, off-road and on-road vehicles. “Today’s announcement strengthens not only Polaris’ commitment to bringing our consumers lithium-ion electric solutions, but also this partnership’s ability to continue innovating and developing leading electric drivetrain technology,” said Wine. “We anticipate a return on these investments and believe the new alignment brings us that much closer to delivering world-class electric solutions across our products.”

Brammo has designed and developed numerous electric vehicles, including the award-winning Enertia and Empulse motorcycles. Testifying to its capabilities and technology, Brammo motorcycles have won a number of awards including: 2013 Playboy “Motorcycle of Year” and “Best Electric” (Empulse R), 2012 GQ “Best Stuff of the Year” (Empulse), 2011 Popular Science “Best of What’s New” (Empulse), 2011 Motorcycle.com “Best of 2011” and a 2010 Silver Edison Award. In addition, Brammo’s motorcycles have won numerous racing championships including the 2013 FIM eRR North American World Cup Champion and 2012 TTXGP World Championship.

What exactly does this mean?  Not many know, and the people who do aren’t talking.

<alert:rant>

In the continuing timeline for Brammo we’ve seen some pretty sketchy management, and I’ve earned myself the “hater” tag amongst the Brammo faithful fanboys.  Which I could care less about.  I will say this.  I’ve followed this company’s actions since the very first “Shocking Barack” publicity stunt, through the development of the Enertia and the Empulse, as well as all the other vaporware products were announced and listed on their site that never made it to market.  I’ve tried my best to get information direct from the company, whether “on the record” or off, and I’ve been told the most astounding series of half-truths and misinformation over the last 6 years that I’ve actually wondered just how gullible the company’s spokespeople think we all are, out here in the non-Brammo world.

What seems to escape the people who would tell the story the way they want it to read is that there are a whole lot of people out there who have their own version of the story, and, remarkably, have access to the internet and to email as well.

I could, quite literally, sit down and write a list of this “information” that would be a page long, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort.  If I included the fanboys and bloggers, I could double that list.  The most generous thing I could say is that, possibly, there was a lot of intent and wishful thinking reported as fact, but even that is pretty thin.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been compiling information for a long time now, mostly via this blog, for a book on the history of electric motorcycles.  Brammo has certainly earned it’s own chapter, but, unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be a chapter on ADD management, corporate self-interest and short-sighted profit-seeking rather than developing and producing an electric motorcycle. I’m still trying to find out what happened to the recent $73 million or so Brammo got in investment.

My greatest sympathy is for the guys who’ve given their heart and soul to this company and this team, and who are now looking for work in a severely economically depressed region of Oregon.  The reports I got were official layoffs of 24 people, but an addition “forced vacation” (and in many cases unpaid) of another dozen, amounting to over half the staff of 70 or so in the Talent plant.  This was reported as across the board except for management, and right before the holiday season.  So yeah, you can call my opinion harsh if you want, but there’s not much I’ve been told, off the record or on, to convince me it didn’t happen like this.

In spite of the continued spin Brammo is putting on this development as the best thing ever, my personal opinion is that Polaris has had enough of watching the company’s lack of focus, sees an opportunity to cut their losses and pull what they can sell through their channels, and cut Brammo and it’s management loose.

My greatest hope is that Polaris, a mature and responsible company, will take this product and improve it, produce it and sell it through their in-place dealer network of Victory and Indian.  It still would be a tough row to hoe, but Polaris has the resources to make a go of it.  I also have the hope that the Polaris PR team is a little more forthcoming in reporting the company’s intentions, but that could go either way.

As I’m fond of saying, time will tell.

</rant>

From Glassdoor:

Posted Oct '13

Posted Oct ’13

Egos, egos egos...

Egos, egos egos…

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One response to “Polaris and Brammo: The Next Chapter

  1. I have the feeling Brammo jerked their dealers around too. My 1st EV ride was an Empulse at a snooty BMW/Ducati/MV Agusta dealer. The price changed 3 times and so did the cost of getting it from Tampa to Orlando. In the end it was “well we got this old white one, take it or leave it” (which was up on a maint lift, partially disassembled) so I left it.

    On the flip side, for Zero, the price was the list on Zero’s website and the salesman was happy to sell me the bike.

    Also, I’ve seen Victory and nu-Indian bikes in the dealership. Both the Victorys had pieces falling off. That does not speak well for Polaris.

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