Polaris to launch new electric bike in 4-5 years -exec

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle maker Polaris Industries Inc plans to launch an electric bike under its marque Indian brand in the next four or five years, a senior executive said.

This will be Polaris’s second shot at making electric bikes.

In January, the company wound down the production of its Victory motorcycles, which also included its Empulse electric bike, after booking cumulative losses of more than $100 million over the past 18 years.

Polaris now wants to attract new riders with “fun” electric motorcycles as it focuses on the storied Indian brand, which it bought in 2011, Steve Menneto, president of its motorcycles division, told Reuters.

The company’s new electric motorcycle is expected to cover 120-140 miles on a single charge if driven aggressively, compared with 75 miles for an Empulse bike.

“The characteristics of the (new) powertrain are going to be more applicable to be able to ride a bike in pleasure and twisties, and kind of how you would use pleasure bikes today,” said Menneto.

Polaris and larger rival Harley-Davidson Inc are increasingly targeting price-conscious millennials as demand skids for big bikes in the United States, where the core customer group of baby boomers is aging.

Polaris would also expand the product line of the Indian brand to include bikes with smaller cylinder capacities, Menneto said.

He expects the company’s revenue from its motorcycle business to grow to $1 billion in the next five years from $708.5 million last year.

Market-leader Harley has also been working to attract young riders. The company unveiled its prototype battery-powered motorcycle, LiveWire, in 2014 and plans to launch an electric bike within the next four years or so.

Harley’s revenue from motorcycles and related products has fallen about 2.7 percent cumulatively over the past two years. In contrast, Polaris’s revenue from its motorcycles business, which includes sales of parts, garments and accessories, has jumped about 30 percent in the same period.

Menneto declined to give pricing details about the new electric bike but said that it would be priced competitively. The company’s suggested retail price for the Victory Empulse is upward of $19,999. (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Anil D’Silva)