Riders in 30 states can now drive a Polaris Slingshot with a valid state driver’s license — instead of a previously required motorcycle license — which could boost sales and even lower credit losses on the three-wheeled vehicles, according to Donal Hummer Jr., ThunderRoad Financial’s chief executive.
ThunderRoad Financial is taking a more “conservative” approach to financing Slingshot vehicles, due to higher losses — double — than other powersports vehicles in its portfolio, Hummer told Powersports Finance in December. The lender has not “pulled back” from financing the vehicles, but is being cautious based on the loan performance it has seen so far, he added.
Over the last few months, ThunderRoad has continued to monitor the loan performance of Slingshot vehicles, Hummer told Powersports Finance. “One theme that seems to be surfacing is that Slingshot owners do not appear to be the typical motorcycle rider,” he said. “While at this point it is only circumspection, possibly the lack of affinity, passion, and camaraderie that traditional motorcyclists have for their motorcycles is missing with Slingshot owners and this could possibly contribute to these [credit loss] anomalies.”
However, this is “not all bad news,” Hummer said. The license reclassification will “greatly increase” the population of consumers who would consider buying or financing a Slingshot. “The resultant outcome being larger demand and greater sales for both new and used, which is good for both the manufacturer and the powersports finance companies,” he said.
On April 5, it Polaris announced that the license requirements in Colorado and Wyoming were reclassified, making the two states the 29th and 30th states in the U.S. to allow consumers to operate the Slingshot vehicles without a motorcycle license.
“Because of the unique three-wheeled configuration and unique characteristics of the Slingshot, determining how to classify it has been a challenge for state governments, which Polaris classifies as a three-wheeled moto-roadster,” according to the Polaris press release. “Initially, when it was introduced to the market in 2014, consumers were required to have a motorcycle endorsement or license to operate the Slingshot, which offers a distinct ride through its open cockpit and side-by-side experience.”
The remaining 20 states require a motorcycle endorsement, but efforts are being made to reclassify the vehicle to gain “full conformity” throughout the country, according to the release.