Indian Scouts for A Few Good Dealers

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While the official launch of Indian Motorcycles still looms somewhere in mid-2008, a company official says the resurrected brand has received more than 1,800 inquiries from potential dealers over the past six months. Of those, the company has filtered down the requests to around 250 good leads, says Gary Busch, director of dealer development.

"Ideally ... what we're after is the top 50 motorcycle markets in the country. We have a good idea of where we want to go and where we want to be in those top 50 markets," says Busch. "We'd like to have single-line dealerships, exclusive dealerships in most of those markets. We do realize that the volumes that would be supported in some of those markets may not allow for exclusive dealerships in all markets, but that's what we're going to strive for."

The company hasn't said whether it's looking to hit the sales floor alongside a particular brand in a multiline dealership, but does explain that whatever the case — European, Japanese or American — it would want its own showroom building. Busch adds that for now, Indian is seeking experienced motorcycle or automobile dealers.

In late 2007 the company broke ground on a 10,000 sq. ft. dealership in Lowell, N.C. It is expected to open within the next year. This is slated to be the first of Indian's 50 planned signature dealerships, the design for which Busch describes as being "iconic." Other than this, he won't elaborate.

"There will definitely be a branding theme for the exterior and interior of the stores. It'll be scalable to a large building or a larger building. We haven't revealed what that is yet," he says. "It will be something really grabbing and have a great amount of draw when everybody sees it."

While Busch won't share any information on production volumes, he says the first model to be introduced next year will be an Indian Chief motorcycle powered by a fuel-injected PowerPlus V-twin motor. Production of the bike will be done completely in-house as will the engineering and design, he adds.

"The expectation is that we'll have several models of the Chief," Busch says. "Basically, it'll be a Chief motorcycle, but beyond that it'll be different iterations of that motorcycle." For 2010, 2011 and 2012 there are several other motorcycles planned as well.

The company announced in 2007 that production of the resurrected bike was pushed back. "Mid-2008 is when we plan to come back to market. Developing a bike is a long and complex task, and we will only come back to market when we feel we have a quality product," Indian chairman Stephen Julius tells Dealernews. "This is more important than timing." In the meantime the company is planning to introduce this month a complete line of Indian-branded apparel and related products.

According to the company, the apparel and accessories line will be developed and distributed by Iconic American Brands, a new company set up for this purpose. Apparel industry veteran Steve Miska will oversee the clothing project. The apparel collection will consist of riding gear and sportswear and be sold through Indian Motorcycle dealers and select department and specialty stores beginning in the fall. — Dennis Johnson