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Opinion: Independent Indian dealerships

Sydney Indian and Victory store - platforms

Riders and owners are understandably concerned about news that Indian Motorcycle Australia will close its Australian company-owned stores and move to a system of independent, privately owned dealerships.

The four stores in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are opulent, to say the least, with customer service to match.

They match the standards set by main competitor and fellow countryman, Harley-Davidson.

However, the expensive model which began in 2008 with Victory Motorcycles was simply economically unsustainable, especially in these tougher times.

Mrs MotorbikeWriter saddles up for the Victory/Indian shop ride independent

Independent model

Piaggio tried much the same thing with company-owned Vespa boutiques that failed.

The Indian-owned dealerships probably only lasted under company ownership as long as they did because of rumoured “creative accounting” that borrowed from Polaris ATV sales to make the economic case for Indian and Victory which was axed in 2017.

The company now says moving to an independent model will be an advantage for customers with a more comprehensive network of dealerships across the country.

They have also confirmed ongoing warranty and parts support.

Pause for concernIndian motorcycle independent dealership

But do customers have pause for concern that there will be enough independent dealers?

We asked former Indian Motorcycle executive and now a senior motorcycle industry consultant Robert Pandya for his take on the Aussie move.

“To me it is only logical that a factory-owned dealership model was needed to establish a brand in a market over to a dealer-owned model,” he says.

Robert Pandya Bicycle kids will become motorcyclists
Robert Pandya

“Companies as big as Indian / Polaris are big ships with small rudders.

“The needs of a local market in products, training and culture require local understanding and commitment that simply would never efficiently filter up to the budget police at a corporate HQ, especially one on another continent.”

However he says the longtime Indian Motorcycle brand has “weathered significant storms” since its inception in 1901.

He says it will get stronger in Australia as dealer locations are increased through a more traditional model.

stores Victory-Indian-Perth-Dealership-Artistic-Render.jpg
Perth store opened in 2016

“It will also end any issues of parity in factory Vs dealer shops,” he says.

“All dealers that sell reasonable volumes should have the same opportunity for products.”

As Indian launches its new Challenger range on the market, Robert says the challenge for the company is to produce new products that meet consumer wants.

“The product range will need to expand for local dealers to buy-in,” he says.

“If customers took the time to write in to companies in bulk (instead of bitching on some invisible forum) companies will respond to needs that will be better executed by an engaged local dealer.”

  1. I’m glad Indian made this announcement before I put down my hard earned money on the new the Challenger which is yet to come to Australia. Polaris credibility is already on shaky ground with their infamous history of pulling the rug from under customers with the sudden shut down of the Victory brand. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe if closing down the Indian dealerships does not work they will pack their bags and leave Australia’s shores. The last thing anyone would want is a $40,000. orphan motorcycle. The opinion expressed by the person in this article about customers ‘bitching on some invisible forum’ is classic Fawlty Towers stuff. If the forum where customers compare notes about Indian’s shortfalls was as he put it ‘invisible’ how was he aware of it existence and why did Indian choose to ignore the problems openly discussed on the Indian forum site. Harley Davidson must be waiting for the Indian customers to walk through their doors, somehow I don’t think they will be disappointed.

  2. As an Indian owneer , since day one in Brisbane , I have had a great personal experience with the Brisbane shop , and think its a shame for the great dedicated staff . On saying that , Indian are doing their best to place these experienced staff members in the new dealerships . The Service staff are awesome , and the sales staff are great to deeal with . I have no real reservations about the future of Indian in Australia . The prospect of more dealerships , just says to me more Indians on the road than ever . The multiple brand Dealerships are here to stay . Go into Brisbane Motorcycles and a great team will sell you a Ducati , a Honda , or a Norton . Vrry friendly and professional . I hope people like this are the new Indian dealers . The future of Indian is in good hands .

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