Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page


MINNEAPOLIS (January 25, 2012) — Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII) today reported record net income of $0.90 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2011, up 15 percent over the 2010 fourth quarter.  Net income for the fourth quarter 2011 was a record $63.9 million, an increase of 17 percent over the same period in 2010.  Record sales of $782.0 million for the fourth quarter 2011 increased 26 percent over 2010 fourth quarter sales of $618.4 million.


Full Year Results

For the full year ended December 31, 2011, Polaris reported record net income of $227.6 million, or a record $3.20 per diluted share, compared to $147.1 million, or $2.14 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2010.  This represents a 50 percent increase on a diluted share basis and a 55 percent increase in net income.  Sales for the full year 2011 totaled a record $2,656.9 million, an increase of 33 percent compared to sales of $1,991.1 million for the full year 2010.


”Our record fourth quarter results were a fitting ending to a year in which we generated record annual sales and earnings and significantly exceeded our initial expectations.  Our top and bottom-line expansion, and the momentum we are sustaining throughout our business, directly results from our focus on driving innovation, enhancing our product offering, reducing costs, and growth through new global markets and adjacencies,” stated Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chief Executive Officer.  “Specifically, during the year we furthered our leading market share position in off-road vehicles while continuing to gain market share in motorcycles and snowmobiles.  Moreover, we introduced over 20 new vehicles, including award-winning products like the RANGER RZR 570 value recreational off-road vehicle, the 800 Pro-RMK snowmobile, and the Victory Cross Country Tour motorcycle.  Our operations team managed to meet the increased demand for these vehicles while bringing our new Monterrey manufacturing facility online on time and on budget, driving initial 2011 savings on plan with future projections in line with stated expectations.  Building on our surging core businesses, our military and Bobcat adjacencies continue to gain momentum, and we have made considerable progress in expanding our international presence with increased sales in Europe, China, and India.  Lastly, we added to our small electric vehicle portfolio with the acquisition of Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) and Goupil Industrie SA, which expands our ability to compete in this fragmented, fast-growing $4 billion market.”


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“Fitting out” the Texaco service bay in Driving America

The new Driving America Exhibit is ONLY 5 days away from opening at the Henry Ford Museum! This remarkable mix of hundreds of historically significant vehicles, artifacts, digital media, interactive play and personal accounts, makes this exhibit like no other exhibit!

Driving America will offer a brand-new opportunity for kids to pretend they’re auto mechanics. And what better place for this to occur than inside the service bay of the Texaco station—a space that’s been closed to the public since this historic building was brought to Henry Ford Museum in 1987?

Inside this newly-opened space, kids will be able to change tires and mufflers, check fluids and filters, and use a creeper to glide under a ¾-scale, 1960s-era car. Our Education team has made sure that these activities are safe, easy to understand, and age-appropriate.

But the curators got a different assignment:  create the atmosphere of an auto garage from the 1960s era using real artifacts. We are, after all, a history museum. We pride ourselves on authenticity. And we wanted to include real objects that adults could relate to and talk about with kids who had never heard of things like rust-proofing.

But how to go about creating that atmosphere?

We looked at old pictures of service bay interiors (there weren’t many). We shared our memories (or those of our husbands or fathers) of old auto garage interiors. We considered what was available from our own collection and what could be acquired through outside sources. (The designation “NOS” on eBay turned out to be a goldmine to the world of “new old stock” auto accessories.)

Just furnishing the space as a look-in would have been easy, but the ultimate challenge was that people would be entering this space, potentially touching and interacting with these items. So we determined that some things would be placed low and would invite touching (like the hubcaps), while rarer items, like the license plates, would be placed higher up.

It’s sometimes hard for us literal-minded curators to think about how to furnish a space that’s “just pretend”…but that’s what we tried to do here.

Do you have any memories of old full-service stations like our Texaco one, or remember hearing details of them from your parents or grandparents? Share them in the comments section below – and be sure to check out the Texaco Service Bay when “Driving America” opens this Sunday, January 29!

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It’s been a full generation in car years since Dodge offered a compact sedan and even longer since the brand offered a truly competitive model in the segment. Considering that sedans represent about 85 percent of all retail compact-car purchases, the gap in Chrysler’s lineup has been particularly glaring, the five-door hatchback Caliber notwithstanding.

All of that changes this spring, with the debut of the 2013 Dodge Dart, which had its coming-out party at the Detroit auto show.

The Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta from Chrysler parent company Fiat, which is already winning praise in Europe for its sleek design and sporty driving character. The Dart loses none of the good stuff while gaining buff Dodge sheetmetal that takes full advantage of the car’s proportions.

Most prominent is the car’s face, which combines a floating Dodge crosshair grille in a full-width mask fitted with an active shutter system that closes at speed to reduce aerodynamic drag. Subtle Coke-bottle sports-car toning carries through the side panels, while an unmistakable Dodge wraparound 152-LED tail-lamp treatment completes the look.

Interior appointments pick up on the theme, including ambient lighting, an available seven-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster and optional light pipes surrounding the floating instrument panel and 8.4-inch touch-screen media center.

All Dart models benefit from taut Euro-tuned underpinnings, relying on high-strength steel for more than two-thirds of the structure.

The front-drive Dart will be offered with three four-cylinder engines: a 160-hp, 145-lb-ft 2.0-liter; a 160-hp, 184-lb-ft turbo 1.4-liter; and a 184-hp, 171-lb-ft 2.4-liter-the latter two with Fiat’s MultiAir variable intake and combustion timing. Three six-speed transmissions will be available: a dual-clutch gearbox, an automatic and a manual. The manual will be offered with all three engines, while the automatic will be limited to the 2.0-liter and the 2.4-liter. The dual-clutch will be paired exclusively with the 1.4-liter engine.

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Nissan Leaf batteries seek second life as home storage

Perhaps you’d be more willing to buy an electric car if you knew that you could sell those pricey batteries down the road.

Nissan and electric power company ABB yesterday announced a partnership to test the technical and commercial feasibility of repurposing used EV batteries for energy storage on the grid and in homes. ABB will work with a joint venture called 4R Energy (for reuse, refabricate, resell, recycle) created by Nissan North America and industrial conglomerate Suminoto to research secondary uses of EV batteries.

The partnership intends to make a prototype stationary lithium ion battery system with at least 50 kilowatt hours of stored energy, which is enough to supply 15 average homes for two hours.

Batteries are the most expensive component of an electric vehicle, costing several thousand dollars depending on the size. After 10 years of driving, automakers expect they will have about 70 percent of their original capacity, which will lower a car’s range.

But the batteries are still workable for many energy storage applications, such as home batteries or buffering the distribution grid. Lithium ion batteries are well suited for delivering bursts of power on the grid for minutes or hours. That means they could be used to create a steady flow of power to consumers as more variable wind and solar power comes onto the grid, said Jochen Kreusel, global head of ABB’s smart grid program.

ABB is already working with GM on a similar project to repurpose Chevy Volt batteries for energy storage.

In addition to the technical challenge of repackaging used batteries, the partnership will seek to answer whether the end stationary storage product is commercially viable. In the past few years, utilities in the U.S. have started to experiment with neighborhood energy storage systems to provide backup for a group of homes and relieve pressure on the grid during peak times.

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The winter weather is just in time for the Plymouth Ice Festival

The Plymouth Ice Festival Weekend is finally here and it looks like the weather is cooperating! Maybe a little too much with all this snow we have falling right now, but at least the ice will stay Frozen!!

The following lanes or roads are closed through SUNDAY, January 22nd in downtown Plymouth as a result of the Plymouth Ice Festival
• NORTHBOUND MAIN STREET – From Ann Arbor Trail to Penniman will be closed
• WESTBOUND ANN ARBOR TRAIL – From Union/Deer to Main Street will be closed
• SOUTHBOUND UNION – From south of Roe to Ann Arbor Trail will be closed
• PENNIMAN – From Main to Union will be closed

Drivers should be aware that additional road closures should be anticipated during the weekend as crowds come into the Kellogg Park area. There will be additional Handicapped Parking posted on Union Street between Ann Arbor Trail and Roe Street. Please observe the temporary signs.

For complete information on the Plymouth Ice Festival check out their web site at or contact the Chamber of Commerce at 734-453-1540.

Also the CITY’S SNOW RESPONSE TEAM is on the road! The City of Plymouth Department of Municipal Services Snow Response Team is currently on the road with salt trucks as a result of the current snowfall in the Plymouth area. All major streets and municipal parking areas are being treated at this time. Residential side streets are snow covered and slick and drivers are urged to use caution and their winter driving skills during today’s snowfall.

Auto dealers gearing up for tremendous year

“The sky’s the limit.”

That’s how Jim Bechtell, owner of the Somerset Buick/GMC dealership, sums up his outlook for the upcoming year. With the 2012 North American International Auto Show in full swing this week, Bechtell and other auto dealers around southeast Michigan are eager to capitalize on the success the industry enjoyed in 2011.

“General Motors for Buick and GMC, they’ve got a nice little niche with the premium vehicle market,” Bechtell said. “They’re not luxury cars like Cadillac, but they’re not Chevys either. The price point is right in the sweet spot for these world-class cars.”

He then pointed to the all-new Verano and the launch of the Encore as examples of how General Motors is gearing up for the year.

“It’s all about the product,” Bechtell said. “We can now offer vehicles that get 32 mpg or 36 mpg and you don’t have to feel like you’re crammed inside. They’ve got capacity and they offer great performance.”

Dick Scott, owner of Dick Scott Dodge in Plymouth, shares the enthusiasm.

“We’ve got great products to start with,” he said Friday. “We’ve got the 2013 Dart coming in June — it’s just a phenomenal car. The banks are really concentrating on auto loans, there are strides in the economy and it’s an election year, which is always good for retail.”

He estimates a 15- to 20-percent increase in sales across the board.

“We had a great 2011,” he said. “We finished December with a flurry and everything is pointed in the right direction, which is good for the entire economy.”

Mike Schrieber, general manager of Bill Brown Ford in Livonia, said the newly-designed 2013 Escape and Fusion are sure to capture the public’s attention.

“Bill Brown Ford is in a unique position,” he said. “We sell more Escapes and Fusions than any dealer in the United States. We’ll be the ones who get the inventory, especially in the beginning ,when they’re hard to get.”

At the same time, Schrieber said leasing deals on 2012 Fusions and Escapes have been sweetened to move the inventory.

“It really is all about the customer,” he said.

Roy Williams, sales manager at Avis Ford in Southfield, adds the stylishly revamped 2013 Taurus to his list of hot-selling products for the coming year.

“We’ve got quite a bit of momentum going right now, and to add to that momentum we’ve got the new Fusion, the new Escape and the new Taurus,” Williams said. “Anyone heading down to the auto show will get a chance to see just how great these cars look.”

Williams added that Ford plans to continue with its aggressive incentive programs to keep people heading into the showrooms.

“Ford is committed to staying aggressive,” he said. “We are always striving to being the best.”

Scott LaRiche, vice president of Lou LaRiche Chevrolet in Plymouth Township, expects the public to be pleasantly surprised by the number of new vehicles being introduced at this year’s car show, not to mention the quality.

“I think the number one thing in 2012 is every manufacturer across the globe has excellent products that people can see at the auto show,” he said. “I spoke to some of the manufacturers at the show and they’re anticipating 14.2 million to 15 million in car sales across the globe this year. That’s a nice uptick from last year’s number, which I think was around 13.5 million.”

Along with better cars, LaRiche said many of the GM dealerships are getting face-lifts to offer nicer showrooms and customer lounges. He also touted the 2013 Malibu that’s expected to arrive in his showroom in the next several weeks.

“They took it to a whole new level,” LaRiche said. “They’re taking cues from the Camaro and Corvette in terms of styling — and it gets up to 38 mpg on the highway. For a mid-sized vehicle, that’s incredible.”

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Plymouth Ice Festival Organizer Hopes for Wintry Weather

With the Plymouth Ice Festival one week away, organizer Sam Walton says he has been losing sleep.

The restlessness doesn’t come from the organizational or fundraising standpoint for the famed winter festival, however. Walton says the unseasonably mild temperatures this winter haven’t been ideal for a weekend-long event that features ice with a variety of shapes, sizes and functions.

“Weather is obviously one of the biggest variables that we’ve had to deal with,” Walton said.

Rather than the rain and warm temperatures of late, Walton says he is hoping for at least a dusting of snow and cold air.

There certainly is a lot at stake: The event typically draws about 100,000 people annually and is the largest free ice exhibit in the United States. The event already is stocked with a variety of local and corporate sponsors and the downtown community often relies on the extra foot traffic to boost its January traffic.

If the weather won’t cooperate, Walton said, there still will be plenty for visitors to do in Kellogg Park when the event opens Jan. 20, including a variety of interactive exhibits that won’t require such wintry conditions.

Among those, Walton said, is the McDonald’s Winter Fun Zone with outdoor sports exhibits, coordinated with Sun & Snow. The three-day festival also will include appearances from stars of upcoming shows including Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam and Super Grover from Sesame Street Live, who will appear at the event’s Jan. 20 opening ceremonies.

Technologically inclined visitors might enjoy the festival’s mobile video game system, which allows users to sit on ice while playing the latest software offerings. The event also will feature live music from the Shawn Riley Band and more food options than previous years, Walton said.

In his third year of promoting the event, Walton says he always is looking at ways to keep the 30-year-old festival fresh — and immune to woeful weather.

“(Just looking at ice sculptures) is like a museum to me,” Walton said. “I’d rather shake it up and have people feel and touch and taste and do.”

Still, he isn’t overlooking the event’s frozen roots and the striking sculptures that are curved during the duration of the festival.

The event was founded in 1983 by Scott Lorenz and later run by Michael Watts for 19 years.

“(Watts) did some amazing work over the years growing it into this world-class event,” Walton said. “He was very focused on ice sculptures and blew people’s minds with the amount of art and talent he could bring to Plymouth every year.”

Walton, who took over in 2010, is just the third promoter in the festival’s long history, and he says he hopes to help keep it running at least another 30 years with the support of local businesses.

“I’m happy I was able to be involved with the event during this 30th year,” he said. “Twenty-seven years before (2010), I was a lucky guy that got to come down as a spectator.”

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Can an old auto plant come back to life?

The General Motors Corp. stamping plant in suburban Grand Rapids was born in the Great Depression and died in the last recession. Now West Michigan government and economic development officials are betting that the site will enjoy an economic revival.

Eighteen months after demolition began on the 2 million-square-foot factory, the site is nearly cleared and will be ready for a prospective manufacturer by July, Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt said. The city and its partners are embarking on a marketing campaign to attract one or two large employers.

The plant is among 105 auto manufacturing sites in Michigan that have closed since 1979 and one of 61 that remain vacant, according to a recent study by the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.

General Motors Corp. opened the stamping plant on 36th Street in 1936, 23 years before Wyoming became a city. Over the decades, the plant was repeatedly expanded and updated.

In 2005, the plant received its last tax abatement when it installed $200 million worth of new presses.

That’s why Holt was shocked when he received a call from the plant’s comptroller in October 2008 alerting him that it was slated for closing as part of GM’s bankruptcy reorganization. The Wyoming plant, known for its relatively low cost and high productivity, paid $2.5 million in personal and city property taxes each year — about 17 percent of the city’s budget.

A stakeholders committee considered converting the nearly 92-acre site into an industrial park but decided that a better strategy was to lure one or two large manufacturers.

At its peak, the plant employed about 3,000 workers, but its workforce had declined to about 2,000 a decade ago — still one of the area’s largest employers.

Whatever company ends up locating on the site might employ 1,000, maybe 1,500, said Chris Brochert, a partner with Bloomfield Hills-based Lormax Stern, which plans to develop the site.

“We’re going to be very discriminating about the kind of business we put there,” he said.

The site already has drawn “a lot” of interest from potential buyers, Brochert said, but he declined to identify them. Its location in West Michigan between Detroit and Chicago makes it highly desirable, he said.

“A lot of people seem to think Grand Rapids is the shining star in Michigan,” Brochert said.

Lormax Stern acquired the property from Motors Liquidation Co., which was formed by GM during the bankruptcy. In July, Lormax Stern sold the property to the city of Wyoming for $1 but retained development rights.

To attract a buyer, the company and city are working with The Right Place, the Grand Rapids area’s economic development agency.

“It’s the top of my hit parade,” said Right Place President Birgit Klohs. “This is a very special site.”

What makes it special, she said, is the infrastructure, including its location next to the U.S. 131 freeway, an adjacent rail line, an electrical substation and water, sewer and natural-gas lines.

The Right Place recently hired Indianapolis-based Applied Marketing to develop an interactive video and print materials promoting the site. The property would be ideal for companies in alternative energy, aerospace and other high-tech manufacturing, Klohs said.

“There are still industries that need a substantial piece of property like this,” she said — but added, “not as many as 15 or 20 years ago. There may only be a dozen companies that would be interested. We want to find them.”

The property was grandfathered in as a brownfield site before Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature repealed that tax credit program at the end of 2011, Holt said. Wyoming can offer another incentive, he said.

“Because we own the property, we’re prepared to offer a deal on the site,” Holt said.

He, Klohs and Brochert agreed that it could take a few years to find a large employer suitable for the site.

“Our hope is to restore the tax base,” Holt said, “but our big hope is to restore those jobs. I’m not sure we’ll ever match the amount of taxes. I’m not sure we’ll match the number of jobs. But we’re going to try our darnedest.”

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More unveiling at the NAIAS: Nissan Pathfinder Concept

It has been a busy week so far at the North American International Auto Show with
the unveiling of several new vehicles and concept cars. Like the Nissan Pathfinder Concept, it takes all of Pathfinder’s traditional SUV hallmarks and wraps them in a new platform and dramatic new aerodynamic design.

With thoughtful technology, comfortable seating for seven and ample cargo room, the 4-wheel drive Pathfinder Concept previews the next-gen production Pathfinder that is scheduled to go on sale next fall.

Visit for more details on this All-New Pathfinder:

2012 North American International Auto Show Is HERE!!!

It’s that time of year again!!
The displays are set and the vehicles are HERE!! This week the Press, Industry and Charity Previews
will be taking place. Then the show opens to the public THIS SATURDAY!
Show Dates & Times
Saturday, January 14 – Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ticket Prices
Adults: $12 per person
E-Tickets: $12 per person
Any Day Pass, Group Ticket: $8 with purchase of 30 tickets or more
Seniors: $6 (65 and older)
Children: (7-12 years old; 6 and under free with parent or guardian)

Cobo Center, One Washington Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48226

Visit or follow the NAIAS on their facebook page this year and get up to the minute news on the latest and greatest releases and announcements as this years event gets into full swing!