Despite the coronavirus pandemic and other madness of 2020, the motorcycle industry is surprisingly strong going into the final weeks of fall. In October, Harley-Davidson posted Q3 financial numbers that exceeded expectations, and now Polaris has done the same. Indian, in particular, seems to have done well in the third quarter (Slingshot sales are included in Polaris motorcycle numbers).
According to Polaris’s stats, Q3 motorcycle sales were up 11 percent, when compared to 2019’s numbers over the same time period. Polaris says this is mostly due to increased Slingshot sales, as well as parts/clothes/accessories.
More importantly, profits were up. Gross profits hit $16 million, from $9 million in 2019’s Q3. Polaris says the company’s new Polish factory had a lot to do with this, as it skirts the EU’s tariffs on US-built motorcycles. Polaris also gave some credit to a “decrease in promotional costs.” In other words, Polaris had more bikes sold with less money spent on advertising.
Speaking of more bikes sold: Polaris says Indian says “North American consumer retail sales for Indian Motorcycle increased in the low-forty percent range during the third quarter of 2020 in a weak mid to heavy-weight two-wheel motorcycle industry that was down low-single digits percent.” That’s very interesting, because insiders across North America will all tell you that expensive, big bikes aren’t seeing the same demand as smaller street and offroad motorcycles. So why the increase for Indian? Maybe it has something to do with reduced competition, as Harley-Davidson stopped shipping bikes to many dealers back in the spring. After all, “North American motorcycle industry retail sales for mid- to heavy-weight motorcycles … was up low-single digits percent in the third quarter of 2020.” Obviously, Indian is doing something right, if it’s grossly exceeding that. You can fudge some numbers by obscuring losses, but sales are sales are sales (usually), and if they’re up, that’s good news.
Check out the rest of Polaris’s third-quarter results here.