Business – Indian Motorcycle stops production –

UNITED STATES

Indian Motorcycle stops production

Business - Indian Motorcycle stops production -

Citing serious financial difficulties, the oldest manufacturer of American motorcycles has just stopped production. Stupor in Gilroy, California, where 380 employees were laid off despite the success of the 2004 range in Milan.

The American manufacturer Indian Motorcycle, founded in 1901, has just stopped production and laid off its staff in order to "preserve the production tool"while waiting for a possible recovery plan.

For Executive Vice President Fran O’Hagan, 38, "it’s a surprise to everyone, including top executivesIndian was preparing to sell 4,500 motorcycles this year against 3,822 last year, with a target of 6,000 motorcycles for 2004 thanks to its three main models of cruisers (Chief, Spirit and Scout)..

In 2001, when Indian was in trouble again after his demise in 1953 and his rebirth in 1999, a group of Boston-based investors, Audax Group, allowed him to keep his head above water by injecting 45 million dollars and firing over 200 people. Today the Gilroy plant, which had 620 employees in 2000, can no longer pay the remaining 380. "They told us we were doing a great job but they couldn’t find anyone to give us money", explains a staff representative.

The assets of the company will be made available to creditors and the liquidation could be pronounced soon, putting at the same time in difficulty the 200 resellers of the brand. Which does not prevent O’Hagan from keeping hope: "Indian has seen a lot of ups and downs throughout its history so I’m sure there will be a new chapter.".

Before the First World War, Indian was in fact the largest manufacturer in the world with a production of 20,000 motorcycles per year. Its Springfields plant, nicknamed the Wigwam, employed up to 3,000 people at the time. But the advent of the automobile, with a mass production model like the Ford T, will irreparably change the situation in the motorcycle business … Will the Voxan Club de France have to open a Californian branch in order to train members of the Indian Riders Group ?

Eric MICHEL

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