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5 Companies the Industry Was Watching in 2018

It was a busy year in powersports as new products were released, new partnerships were formed, and the economy expanded. But, through it all, the industry kept an especially close eye on some leading players, including these five:

Harley-Davidson Inc.

The industry watched Harley-Davidson closely this year. U.S. motorcycles sales dropped 13% in the third quarter, the steepest quarterly drop for the OEM in eight years, while the EU’s tariffs on Harley’s bikes jumped to 31% from 6%. However, the company also earned attention for its More Roads to Harley business strategy, which includes plans to roll out new models, including a small displacement motorcycle; to open smaller, urban stores; and to establish partnerships with e-commerce providers.

Polaris Industries

While OEMs are struggling to grow U.S. bike sales, Polaris continued to show growth in the off-road segment, where its third-quarter sales rose 3% to $1.03 billion. One of the largest powersports manufacturers, Polaris also reported year-over-year growth in side-by-sides and ATVs, in addition to steady growth for its motorcycle arm, Indian Motorcycles. The OEM also entered into the marine sector with the $805 million acquisition of Boat Holdings, a luxury pontoon manufacturer, in May.

Mahindra Automotive North America

Mahindra Automotive North America, which sells tractors and utility vehicles in the U.S., this year released its first powersports vehicle, a UTV called the Roxor. Mahindra signed a multi-year contract for consumer financing from Sheffield Financial and Synchrony Financial, making it easier for dealers and consumers to do business with the company. Additionally, it signed up with Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution to offer floorplan financing.

Yamaha Motor Finance Corp. USA

Yamaha, which last year said it wanted to form a captive arm, launched its finance operations in early December and hired Brian Hinchman, the former vice president of operations at TCF Inventory Finance, to head up the effort.

Motolease

Motorcycle lessor Motolease is looking to improve its operations with new technology and to boost its sales with new marketing effort. The company improved the accuracy of its proprietary credit forecasting model by 2.7% using machine learning techniques and alternative data. The company also launched a rewards program called MotoCoin, which allows eligible consumers who make timely payments the chance to re-price their lease at a better credit tier. Additionally, the lender launched a new listing website called Usedmotorcycles.com.

As Associate Editor of Powersports Finance, Matt Wood reports on the latest developments and trends of the powersports finance world, from innovation to new partnerships. He's also a movie/TV show buff and is willing to argue about Lost anytime. Former bylines include Scout Media and CinemaBlend.

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