Minnesota-based Polaris adding 300 jobs to build more motorcycles

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Minnesota-based Polaris Industries is revving up the employment picture in northern Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reports that Polaris is in the midst of hiring an additional 300 workers at its Spirit Lake, Iowa, production facility, where its classic motorcycles are built. Once finished, Polaris will employ 1,050 in Spirit Lake and 300 at its facility in Milford, Iowa.

Polaris has expanded its revival of the Indian brand with the launch of the Indian Scout, a lighter, less expensive model. Final assembly of the Scout, the company said, will be done in Spirit Lake along with the other Indian Motorcycle models. The Scout should be available for purchase sometime in the last three months of the year.

Earlier this year, Iowa Public Radio reported that Polaris Industries could not keep up with the demand for its Indian motorcycles.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Polaris got lots of attention when it showed off the Scout at the 74th annual South Dakota motorcycle gathering earlier this month. The yearly event attracts nearly 500,000 to the tiny Black Hills town.The story noted that the Scout is designed to attract "... smaller riders, female riders or first-time riders who might be intimidated by a full-size Indian or Harley."

Polaris made a similar announcement at last year's Sturgis rally when it launched the production of three iconic Indian motorcycles: the Classic, Vintage and Chieftain.

Those three models have been on the market for the better part of a year. In that time, Polaris went from zero dealers selling Indian motorcycles to more than 150 in North America.

The starting price for the Scout will be $10,999. The Classic, Vintage and Chieftain are priced between $18,999 and $22,999.

Hype for the Indian motorcycles is helping Polaris' bottom line as well. Polaris reported a profit of $177.8 million for the first half of 2014, up 14 percent from $155.5 million for the first half of 2013. But Polaris is still significantly behind rival Harley-Davidson. While Polaris sold about $220 million worth of motorcycles in 2013, Harley-Davidson sold upward of $4 billion.

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