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Old 07-29-2015, 12:00 AM   #1
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Victory Motorcycles: High On Voltage

Electric vehicles —the domain of golf duffers, mall cops, hyper-milers and other greenie-weenies—aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think performance. But staking a claim in the electric motorcycle space was a logical first step to expand the footprint of the Victory brand and underline the company’s new performance-first branding, Josh Katt, Product Manager for Victory Electric, tells us.

“We are going to leverage electric bike technology to over-index on performance,” Katt says, explaining how electric motorcycles offer Victory an opportunity to become a major player in a burgeoning market, and also to define the upper limit of performance in that segment. The electric motorcycle market is set to boom, Katt claims. A projected 1 million electric motorcycles will be sold globally next year, he says, and growing infrastructure—including an estimated 25,000 new charging outlets—will raise awareness and reach new riders who will demand new product solutions, all of which adds up to a unique opportunity to quickly expand Victory’s reach. Katt suggests that it would be fiscally irresponsible to ignore what is one of the fastest-growing segments of the two-wheeled industry.

Victory already operated an in-house electric vehicle program, having built a utility oriented Ranger EV for 5 years now, but partnering with Oregon-based eBike pioneer Brammo was a quick way to leapfrog the Victory name to the top of the eBike performance charts. The two firms first partnered in 2013, when Victory became interested in electric performance. Polaris made the partnership permanent in January 2015 by purchasing all Brammo’s motorcycle assets.

NEXT STORY: First Ride Review of the 2016 Victory Empulse TT Electric Motorcycle

The first tangible result of this development is the Empulse TT, an evolution of the highly developed Brammo Empulse electric sportbike. Victory isn’t aiming for the entry-level commuters, at least not with the $19,999 Empulse TT. Katt illustrates the target TT customer with a photo of Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.’s character in the Ironman franchise, describing the rider profile of an affluent, tech savvy, status seeker. This is intended to be a halo product, and an alternative, innovative expression of American Muscle.

“We don’t want to play in all fields,” Katt says. “We want to focus on where electric technology fits into the Victory brand position. That’s why we’re starting with a performance-oriented electric bike.”

It might seem ironic that Katt, formally trained in engine systems, is now in charge of products without engines, but he says that internal combustion experience gives him an advantage when it comes to developing eBikes that resonate with internal combustion enthusiasts. And he is equally convinced that compelling electric motorcycles will raise interest in the Victory brand on all fronts.

“We know who purchased the previous Brammo Empulse,” Katt says, “as well as who would be interested in purchasing a Victory electric motorcycle. When they get their head wrapped around Victory as a performance electric brand, I think they’ll even find some of our baggers and other products to be engaging, too.”

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