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Electric Cars in the Polaris Future?

Could Polaris Industries be positioning itself to build electric cars at its new plant in Huntsville?

This summer’s most delicious business rumor may well have come from a story by Collin Woodard on the website cheatsheet.com, which pondered whether Minnesota-based Polaris Industries might be positioning itself to build electric cars at its new plant being built in Huntsville. 

“When we look at a few important trends in the United States, we see people continuing to move to urban areas,” Woodard wrote. “In 25 years or so, it wouldn’t be that surprising to see the vast majority of Americans living in some sort of city. Not only is city travel already different than rural or suburban travel, increasing the number of people who live in cities will very likely make transportation even more complicated.”

What if Polaris used its considerable knowledge of downsized vehicles to create an electric-powered transport that could rival the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S for short urban hops?

Polaris, a publicly traded company (NYSE: PII) with a market capitalization of $9.5 billion and a projected income this year of $500 million, is a big enough player to make it work. Its new Alabama plant is targeted to open in spring 2016. CEO Scott Wine told Business Alabama for a June cover story that the Huntsville plant would become the primary source of Polaris Rangers, its top-selling off-road vehicle. He also noted that the company recently bought Global Electric Motorcars from Chrysler.

While the company has given no official word that it might soon enter the electric car business, CEO Wine did offer this nugget in the June interview: “We bought an electric motor company called Brammo that makes engines with a world-class lithium-ion technology, and we think that’ll be important for our products over time. We’re willing to make bold bets sometimes.” 

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