The Polaris/Brammo Empulse: Moving to Iowa Mid-2015


Polaris plant,

Polaris plant, Spirit Lake IA

Can you say, Spirit Lake, Iowa?

Couched deep in the press release we reported yesterday is the statement:

“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.”

That facility is where Polaris builds both the Indian and the Victory motorcycles and employs over 1000 people (compared to 70, at Brammo earlier this year), so it’s not a huge surprise that they’ll consolidate manufacturing and bring the Empulse (and presumably Enertia Plus) there.  It’s not, however, great news for the economically depressed Talent, Oregon area, where Brammo was one of the largest employers, or the city of Ashland, after securing funding and a development loan to keep the company in Ashland, in spite of the subsequent move to Talent.

The facility looks huge, and we’re estimating it’s a little over twice as big as the 99.000 square-foot ex-Walmart Brammo currently calls home:

Polaris, Silver

Polaris, Spirit Lake IA aerial view

From the Polaris corporate info page, we get this:

Our Spirit Lake facility manufactures select Indian Motorcycles and Victory Motorcycles. Polaris, Spirit Lake is located in the Northwest corner of Iowa. We are in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes where recreation and fun are a way of life.

The Spirit Lake facility was established in 1994, and currently has 500 employees and 3 production lines. These lines are dedicated to the final production of RANGER and Victory products.

This facility has 225,000 Square Feet located on 23 acres of land and has a Welding Department, Liquid and Metal paint systems supporting our manufacturing operations.

Polaris describes Spirit Lake on the Careers page (but there are no job listings as yet at that location):

Spirit Lake, Iowa, population of 4,907 people, is one of the most beautiful and dynamic cities in the Midwest. Spirit Lake is a full-service city offering a wide variety of recreation, employment and social opportunities to citizens and visitors. Spirit Lake has a vibrant downtown with a variety of retail businesses and an industrial park that provides current employers and potential companies with attractive amenities. Spirit Lake is a great place to raise a family. It is a rapidly developing city, boasting one of the fastest growing economies in Northwest Iowa.

Stay tuned, we’re in contact with Polaris representatives with a list of questions.

Category: Bikes

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6 responses to "The Polaris/Brammo Empulse: Moving to Iowa Mid-2015"
  1. Anderlan says:

    Fittingly, the building looks like a pouch cell from above.

  2. Mico says:

    And which racetrack will they use to finish the development of the RR?

  3. Steven says:

    If they put sincere effort and backing behind it, I wish them all the best.

    If they pull the plug in three years and say “Oh well, we tried”, then they will have no sympathy from me.

    As we all know, a major paradigm shift like this won’t be an overnight success. The problem is that bean-counters expect overnight successes.

  4. Roland Stone says:

    Pie-in-the-sky and pigs will fly before corn country Polaris will produce anything resembling an Empulse. And not a word from Polaris in support of current Brammo motorcycle owners and dealers hung out to dry by Craig Bramscher. It’s three days since Brammo was so pleased to announce the Polaris acquisition and Brammo dealers have no idea what’s next, and can’t even find out if Brammo is still offering fire sale prices for 2014 Empulse models. So what else is new?! Brammo has kept their collective corporate mouths shut about negotiations with Polaris so as not to scare away any remaining uninformed potential buyers, – gotta get rid of all that inventory before the company gets trucked off to mid-west farmland. One disullusioned guy on the Bramscher- adoring Brammo forum wrote he only had three some miles on his new Empulse before he found out Brammo was selling itself off to a Harley Davidson wanna be. Although Brammo promises to honor warranties and continue support for head scraching owners, ask Ashland, Oregon folks what they think of Bramscher’s obfuscation and BS. Anyone owning a Brammo motorcycle who thinks the Polaris return-on-investment acquisition is going to be roses for them must be smoking some of that vegatation growing in the Medford national forest. Good luck!

  5. Roland Stone says:

    PS – That’s Talent Oregon where Brammo is parked, – a few miles north west of Ashland. That general area in Oregon is economically challenged and Talent was happy to accommodate Craig Bramscher for the promise of needed jobs and economic uplift. Now the city of Talent like Brammo motorcycle owners and dealers are all doing some head scratching.

  6. Roland Stone says:

    The stunning irony…………
    The Empulse R is the finest motorcycle I’ve ever owned, – an achievement in engineering genius and elegance that I would never have dreamed possible in all the years I’ve been riding, from delivering newspapers on my Vespa scooter as a kid to the far more relaxed riding of my later years. I’m a retired pilot with over 24 thousand hours in the air, – airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and it’s from that technical perspective that I come to admire the incredible scope of achievement in Electric Vehicle innovation, worthy in my opinion of comparison to the evolution of flight to the present day. And to think the technology is only in its infancy! So where’s the irony……….? It’s that Brammo wasn’t worthy of the masterpiece it created. To have brought its electric motorcycle to the highest levels of EV achievement in league with Tesla and other imaginative industry marques and then literally dump all the struggle and suffering of that genius into the hands of a jungle vehicle manufacturer is sin not far removed from the biblical rendering of Christ, – histrionic, but I make my point. If there were some expectation and assurance the Empulse marque would be perpetuated and taken to even higher technological levels of achievement, I’d have no issue and certainly not the to the extent of pique expressed in my previous remarks. So there it is, and is my anger justified? You bet! When you buy into an exciting, established transportation technology as such in the assumption your considerable financial investment will return to you in benefit as a member of an established technological community of like minded owners and the expectation of reliable product support and the implied promise of limitless boundaries as advertised by the manufacturer, and then three months later by way of an email announcement discover the entirety of your investment logic and expectations has been handed over to a multi-million dollar corporation for essentially a “few pieces of silver” so they can cannibalize the very technology you’ve invested in so the manufacturer can improve upon its back woods lead-acid battery powered vehicle design is nothing less than misrepresentation and fraud depending how far your anger ranges. And let me emphasize categorically, there was NEVER even intimation from the Brammo cabal there was ANY negotiation afoot to abandon its electric motorcycle operation to a Midwest manufacturer of mud vehicles. There might have been some solace were Brammo Motorcycles at least auctioned off to a known EV manufacturer-developer, but as someone else has mentioned previously, Polaris was stepping on Craig Bramscher’s neck to get some return on its considerable investment and insolvent Brammo finally had to pay up. I have no hope or enthusiasm for the purported advantage of the company sell-off and have been provided no reason for the slightest optimism . In good faith I bought a brand new electric clothes dryer that’s turned out to be a wooden clothes pin.