LAND O'LAKES — A motorcycle company that once was Harley-Davidson's biggest rival is planning to build its first dealership in the Tampa Bay area.
Indian Motorcycles plans to construct a 10,000-square-foot dealership at 21010 State Road 54, just east of Keystone Community Church. The parcel is currently being split, according to county records, and the developers expect to have 2.4 usable acres for the dealership.
Dealer representatives met Monday with county officials.
The Indian Motorcycle brand has a rich history in the United States. Founded in 1901, it was the first motorcycle manufactured in America.
According to Popular Mechanics, the bikes went on to win major international races, and by the 1910s the company was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
In 1914 Indian introduced the first electric starter. It offered its first four-cylinder bike in 1927, a move that made it competitive with Harley-Davidson.
By 1953, the company filed for bankruptcy. Rights to the Indian name switched to different companies as sales continued to slump.
About three years ago, Minnesota-based Polaris Industries, a maker of snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, bought the brand and vowed to resurrect it. The company, which also makes Victory motorcycles, introduced three models, the Chief Vintage, Chief Classic and Chieftain.
Polaris also cut prices. An Indian bike under the old ownership sold for as high as $36,000, while the new bikes range from $18,000 to $23,000. That's comparable to Harley's cruise line.
Company representatives refused to comment on the proposed Tampa Bay expansion.
Polaris' 2013 annual report showed sales increasing 18 percent from 2012, net income from continuing operations growing 22 percent, earnings per share increasing 23 percent and operating cash flow reaching nearly $500 million. The company operates four dealerships in Florida. The closest is in Lakeland. The others are in Ocala, Pompano Beach and Miami.