The end for Brammo’s Empulse and Enertia?

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Brammo has sold its electric motorcycle business to Polaris, and will concentrate on developing electric powertrains.

This news comes as no surprise after Brammo’s fire sale of its existing stock and the lack of announcement regarding 2015 models. Officially Polaris, which was already Brammo’s main investor, takes over its electric motorcycle business while also “acting as a leading investor in a recapitalization of Brammo that enables the company to focus exclusively on the design, development and integration of electric vehicle powertrains”. No mention of how much Polaris paid for the acquisition of Brammo’s electric motorcycle business.

Polaris’ press release notes that “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.” This is a rather vague statement, since it does not say if Polaris will manufacture the existing line of Brammo motorcycles (the Empulse and the Enertia), or if it will release electric versions of its Indian or Victory motorcycles. And we all know that release dates have a habit of being postponed in this industry, so “the second half of 2015” does not mean much.

So is it good news or bad news for electric motorcycles? On one hand, Polaris seems very serious about electrification and has the financial power to fund its projects; an electric Indian or Victory could bring some competition to Harley’s Livewire. On the other hand, if Polaris doesn’t restart the production of the Empulse and the Enertia models, it will be a major setback for the electric motorcycle.

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8 comments for this post
  1. Albert wrote the 16/01/2015

    There is no way Polaris can release a new electric bike in the second half of 2015. What are the Brammo dealers supposed to do until they get a new model to sell?

  2. Richard Harmon wrote the 16/01/2015

    I don’t think anything is coming out of Polaris anytime this year. Polaris would have to set up an assembly line in their factory, order parts from contractors, get their dealers on board with selling the bike, start up a service technician training program, get the bike approved by DOT and in other countries where they plan to sell them and a whole bunch of other practical manufacturing and marketing stuff. Polaris is going to be hard pressed to accomplish all of these tasks this year, although no doubt the end of this year will see an announcement of the new model at the usual big European shows.

    I also believe that Polaris will want to redesign the chassis of the Empulse and may want to ditch the gearbox and motor so that they won’t have to get these specialty items from Brammo’s current Italian suppliers. All of this work is really going to keep them busy this year, especially as they continue to develop and refine their Victory and Indian brands, along with their ATV products. It is going to be a busy year for Polaris. But I think in the long run, it will all work to the advantage of both current Brammo Empulse customers and the future of the electric motorcycle industry as a whole. This will move electric motorcycles into the mainstream enthusiast market and give them some real credibility .

  3. Roland Stone wrote the 17/01/2015

    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!

    • JP, the author of the post, wrote the 17/01/2015

      Yes, Brammo’s lack of concern and respect for its customers and dealers is rather astonishing.

    • Roland Stone wrote the 17/01/2015

      PS – It’s Talent, Oregon where Brammo is actually located time being, a few miles up the road from Ashland. That general area of Oregon is rural, beautiful outdoors and relys significantly on the huge national forest and visitors for support of the area economy. Challenged as many rural areas are for available jobs, Talent was happy to generously accommodate Craig Bramscher for the promise of employment for its citizens in the Brammo facility and organization and the company’s anticipated contribution to the local economy. Now the City of Talent along with more than a few Brammo motorcycle owners and dealers are all scratching their heads wondering what happened to great expectations, like the novel, – a work of fiction.

  4. Roland Stone wrote the 18/01/2015

    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 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 and it’s turned into a wooden clothes pin.

  5. Arnold wrote the 18/01/2015

    The deal will give Polaris a running start in the EV development. By the time Livewires start to “flood” the market, Polaris will run along with them.

  6. rz'er wrote the 19/01/2015

    I smelled Craig Bramscher for a rat in early 2012, and canceled my pre-order. Good riddance, it took a while but karma finally caught up with him.

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