Polaris Buys Out Electric Motorcycle Line From Brammo

2 years ago by Ted Dillard 30

Brammo Empulse bikes ready to ship from the Talent OR. plant

Brammo Empulse bikes ready to ship from the Talent OR. plant

Did we call it?  Why yes, we certainly did:

Polaris Acquires Electric Motorcycle Business from Brammo

That’s the headline and here’s the entire release, though it’s tantalizingly thin on details:

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.

“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”

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.

There’s sure to be more to the story.  There are many, many questions yet to be answered.  Stay tuned for updates.  But we did get this:

Dear __  ,

We are pleased to share with you another exciting chapter in the Brammo story. As you will read in today’s press release. Polaris Industries, a long standing strategic partner and investor in Brammo, has acquired our electric motorcycle business. We will be writing to you in the near future with more details about what this exciting development means for you.

Please be assured that all existing warranty and service obligations relating to your Brammo motorcycle will continue to be honored.

Thank you for being a Brammo customer, we truly appreciate your faith in us and the products we create. Without you this next chapter would not have been possible.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact  ___@brammo

Best Wishes
Team Brammo

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30 responses to "Polaris Buys Out Electric Motorcycle Line From Brammo"

  1. John Hansen says:

    I’m looking forward to a lithium ion powered Polaris Ranger EV!

    1. Matt says:

      For a total electric ATV with amazing performance, check TGS Race page and his amazing PIRATE GREENBEARD. 140 km of range and 80km/H of speed. It is amazing!!! 😉 i drive it and it could go everywhere!!

    2. Skippertgore says:

      FYI, they’ve been producing the Ranger EV for almost 5 years now and it underwent a pretty extensive redesign last year.

      Still has lead-acid batteries though.

      1. John Hansen says:

        Yeah, I know that they’ve been building the Ranger EV with lead-acid batteries, but there are a lot of people reporting problems with the batteries failing after a couple years, so I’m avoiding it. Seems like Brammos batteries are a natural fit.

    3. CptE311 says:

      This. I own a P400 EV and would love a real LIon option.

  2. kdawg says:

    Hopefully this will allow them to make an affordable cruiser.

  3. wavelet says:

    So Brammo as a brand is dead…

    As someone who’s interested purely in standard, do-it-all, bikes (standards & sport-touring), I wonder if Polaris will intro any non-cruiser, non-offroad, electric bikes. I suspect the answer is “no”.

    1. Nix says:

      I’m not so sure the Brammo brand name will die. Polaris bought Indian, and they are still called Indians. Just like Land Rover being sold around to BMW, Ford, etc and still staying Land Rover.

      1. Richard Gozinya says:

        The difference being that Indian’s brand name is the company’s sole value, without any IP to go along with that. Whereas Brammo’s name is worthless, but has some presumably valuable IP. Land Rover has both the name, and the IP. No way anybody buying that brand is going to stop making Land Rovers. But Brammo? Stop making the Empulse, and nobody will even notice.

        It’ll be interesting to see what Polaris does. They’ve either got more guts than I assumed, given their “We’re the other American cruiser company” approach to motorcycles, or they’re just going to squeeze every last penny they can out of Brammo, and then toss the dessicated husk in the trash.

      2. wavelet says:

        @Nix:
        Read the press release as well as the Brammo email to customers (I presume that’s what it was): A lot of mention of Brammo’s electric drivetrain expertise, utilized in “portfolio of leading powersports products”.
        No specific mention of continuing to produce electric motorcycles, under the Brammo name or otherwise.
        Polaris is not primarily a motorcycle company; anyone considering motorcycles primarily as “powersport” can’t be so considered, IMO.
        Motorcycles are methods of transportation, not toys.

        @Richard Gozinya:
        Exactly. Personally, I think brand value is always a joke. but most folks don’t…
        Specifically as to Indian, there were so many later owners (real & fake) of the brand name, none of whose motorcycles, when they existed, had anything to do with the original company.
        See
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_(motorcycle)#Corporate_successors
        I consider the name so diluted at this point that even if I liked cruisers (which I don’t), I would never consider owning any bike called “Indian” except the original company’s.

        1. John Hansen says:

          I’ll disagree with just one point that you made. – “Motorcycles are methods of transportation, not toys.”

          That’s not true for most people who buy them in the United States. That’s like saying that skateboards or skis are methods of transportation, not toys. Yes, technically somebody commute to work on skateboards, skis, or motorcycles, but that’s not the main reason why people buy them here.

          Don’t forget that even if people did want to buy them for transportation, they’re only practical for two thirds of the year in much of the United States.

          Motorcycles are toys that sometimes happen to also be transportation.

          1. wavelet says:

            I’m aware of the situation in the US (lived for several years in the 1990s), but there’s a larger world out there.

            Motorcycles can make for a very practical 2nd vehicle in a 2-vehicle, 2-adult household (used for efficient daily commuting + fun on weekends, while the 2nd vehicle is a car for day-to-day hauling of an entire family and/or cargo, and longer family trips on weekends).

            The weather issue depends really; I rode an old (1982) BMW boxer as my only vehicle in Boston for two years, including in the winter. It certainly wasn’t much fun in the snow (I was on a side street that frequently didn’t get plowed), but I only actually needed to resort to public transportation for about 20-25 days a year; I’d estimate the reasonable riding season to be ~10 months.

            1. Nix says:

              In the US, motorcycles are typically a 3rd vehicle in a 2 car household with 2 adults. Or a second vehicle for a single adult.

              Having a motorcycle as a 2nd vehicle in a 2 adult household would be the rare exception that proves the rule.

          2. Jeff Moore says:

            “Motorcycles are toys that sometimes happen to also be transportation.”

            The same can be said of cars. There’s no logical or practical reason to buy a 400 horsepower German luxury car to commute in — it is a toy. Yet people buy them, and commute in them, because it makes the commute more enjoyable for whatever intangible reasons that person might find important. Rich Corinthian Leather, etc.

            I’ve commuted on a motorcycle almost every day for the past 3 years or so because it makes my commute easier, quicker, and more enjoyable. I bought an Empulse R (and have put 20,000 miles or so on it) because it makes the commute hilarious. There’s no earthly reason for me to need to do that; I could take a gas bike or drive my car or take public transit or rideshare or any number of other things, probably. But the Brammo is a riot, and I save on gas and maintenance. (And with proper heated gear, most weather is not an obstacle)

            What defines a ‘toy,’ anyway? Something you don’t ‘need?’ Technically, I could achieve the same commute on a $1,000 80s UJM. Technically, does anybody ‘need’ a car fancier than a 1995 Hyundai Accent? Is a Leaf a ‘toy?’

            At the end of the day, a motorcycle simultaneously both A.) puts a huge smile on my face while also B.) achieving a utilitarian goal of transport. Is it a toy? Maybe. But then probably so are all my other worldly possessions, if you want to get really internet philosopher about it.

  4. Dave says:

    Not surprised by this. Polaris has been dumping a bunch of money into these guys and not having anything to show for it. My suspicion is that Polaris stepped on their neck, took the Brammo as payment and will move everything to Minneapolis in the next couple months. Craig will walk away with alot of money and still be a hero, and continue on being the scam artist he always has been with some new product.

  5. Steven says:

    You know, I’ve been suggesting that Harley Davidson buy an electric bIke company, long before Project Livewire was announced…

    But did anyone listen to me?

    No.

    Now Brammo will be killed off by the snowmobile company.

    1. wavelet says:

      I don’t consider H-D a real motorcycle company anyway, not since they closed up Buell. Buell was profitable, and actually made a wide range of bikes (including ones suitable for new riders, a big lack in the US market); they were H-D’s real chance at becoming a real transportation vendor instead of just a lifestyle accessory vendor, which is what they primarily are today.

      1. Steven says:

        Not a “Real Motorcycle Company”?

        Wow, they’ve only been in business for over 100 years. Maybe someday they’ll meet your requirements.

        Sure, they are a “lifestyle company”, but with all the folks bragging how many miles they put on their Tesla, that could also be argued as a lifestyle company. I don’t hear a lot of people bragging about how many miles they put on their Leaf in a year.

        As a Harley Davidson owner myself, I hope that TMC will embrace the future, but do it wisely. If so, the existing customer base will lead the company towards products for the future. Improperly done, they’ll waste money and time.

        1. eric says:

          I am coming up on 40,000 miles on my Leaf, and I like to brag about it.

        2. wavelet says:

          Harley is to milking the current market for expensive image bikes at the very real expense of the future of the motorcycle market.
          The rider market is shrinking and getting older (very few new riders). The way to address this is by models suitable for beginners and/or young riders (lightweight, lowish power, lower cost).
          Buell had such models, i.e. the Blast. In addition, what halps keep the market alive is providing bikes in all categories so riders have choice.
          Buell they managed to make a pretty impressive range of bikes (beginner, racing, sport, sport-touring, standard, adventure) reusing the Harley drivetrain, so it was pretty effective cost-wise.
          Despite being a small company producing a large range of bikes, Buell made money for Harley… Just not as high margins as on the Harley image bikes (and they would have made even more, except that Harley forced Buell to make some uneconomic supply choices).

          Killing it off, leaving only expensive cruisers and full-on tourers as Harley offerings, is milking the market in the short range while endangering it in the longer range. That’s why I don’t consider Harley s real motorcycle company.
          (and yes, I know about the HD Street… Nice engine, but way too heavy and too small a range; also a bit too expensive).

      2. finecadmin says:

        They weren’t a transportation company, more of a design house with their own production capacity…

        …Until the Street 500 and 750. H-Ds that are actually expanding not just production lines but factories demonstrate they realized they won’t be viable at “one percenter” penetration, both senses of the term.

    2. Taser54 says:

      Unlikely. Polaris makes Victory Motorcycles and has backed Brammo with millions of dollars. It is more likely that polaris wants to electrify its motorcyles and possibly off-road vehicles using the intellectual property from Brammo to do it.

      Via motors is a similar endgame. They are incubators.

  6. Brian Henderson says:

    Congrats for Brammo and Polaris!

    Does this mean there will be a chance we will see electric Polaris watercraft, or Polaris Skidoo’s?

    1. finecadmin says:

      How nice of you to crack a smile during a marriage of convenience.

  7. Ken_3 says:

    I’ll be interested to see exactly what does happen. Polaris has done well with it’s various products. The “revived” Indian looks and performs great.

    1. Richard Gozinya says:

      Cruisers and performance don’t belong in the same sentence. On any objective measure of performance, they’re outperformed by nakeds/standards, adventure bikes, sport tourers, sportbikes, enduros, even scooters.

      I’m not saying a cruiser can’t be a lot of fun, just that they are in no way, shape or form built for performance.

  8. jstack6 says:

    Polaris also makes the air free tire. Now maybe we will get a lot more vehicles that are electric and can’t get a flat =D——-

  9. Tim says:

    Polaris also makes GEM NEVs. I think Scott Wine views electric vehicles as a growth area for Polaris and the Brammo acquisition as a way to get valuable IP. Polaris historically invests quite a bit in powertrain R&D so I think this is a positive for the future of electric bikes within the company.

  10. I have a Can-Am spyder and would love to convert it over to an EV.. Have lot’s of room for batteries..

  11. Richard says:

    I’m a little with wavelet, on his original comment. But know that Polaris also bought 2 other small ev companies when the got a share in Brammo. Looking at Polaris they only thing they don’t have is a sport bike. I really thought they would have made a bid for EBR. I mean that’d put a bee in H-D’s bonnet, would it. Anyway, I am wondering if this isn’t as Polaris getting their toes into the sportbike world as much as going all in on the elmoto one. And of course, I am even more curious about what will happen with brammo’s racing efforts. Other than the Mugen, which is an Isle of Mann TT special, it’s the last of the big power prototypes.