Author: Ian Kerr Posted: 02 Mar 2014
Polaris Industries Inc. was originally known for its snowmobiles, quads and off-road vehicles before the company decided to enter the two-wheel market and created Victory Motorcycles from scratch. Polaris went on to buy the rights to the historic Indian brand and is now running this for the classic enthusiast who may find the very modern Victory just that – too modern.
With all the recent speculation about Indian’s comeback, it seems most of the world’s motorcycle press missed the fact that in March 2011 the company filed a design patent in the US, which describes a ‘uniquely designed three-wheeled roofless roadster’ or in other words, a vehicle that looks a bit like a Morgan three-wheeler.
Since then, the company has also trademarked a logo bearing the Slingshot name for a ‘road-going three-wheeler’ and secured the web address polarisslingshot.com suggesting that they are ready to launch such a vehicle.
Some of the details are still a bit sketchy though – as the patent describes the engine as a ‘General Motors 2.4-litre Ecotec with a manual transmission’, though it could also incorporate a hybrid system, or even be electrically powered. After all, the company does already produce 11 electric vehicles!
However, what is known is that the driver and passenger sit side by side and there is a steering wheel. A tubular steel frame is covered by bodywork, although its type and structure are not listed.
The power-plant is mounted longitudinally at the front – with power going through a transmission and driveshaft to a final drive system mounted behind the seats. The drive unit has an input U joint and an output sprocket which drives the single rear wheel mounted on a single sided swinging arm (which is controlled by a centrally mounted mono-shock unit) by means of a belt. The front wheels are mounted to upper and lower A-arms with a single shock on each side, while rack and pinion steering is used.
It seems despite its styling cues hailing from the Morgan three-wheelers of past and present, that it will incorporate many modern automotive features which are listed in the ‘may have’ section. These include items such like electric power steering, ABS and stability/traction control, MSR, which limits rear wheel slip during downshifts or a locked rear wheel on a slippery surface, EBD, electronic brake distribution and the list goes on.
Interestingly, mention is also made of interchangeable lighting, suggesting that the intention is to sell the vehicle worldwide. However, the firm has not given any official details other to than to now admit that such a vehicle exists with the Slingshot name and that they intend to launch it this year. However, it is believed that dealers were shown details late last year.
Moving into the trike category allows Polaris to cut down on production costs and not have the set-up costs they would if they entered the car market. By using the ‘reverse’ trike design they get a more stable vehicle than something like the Can-Am Spyder. If they use the 200 bhp GM motor they get real power coupled with low weight, which will make the vehicle fun to drive, at least it will if many of the electronic aids are capable of being switched off.
Obviously the direct competitors that spring to mind are the aforementioned Can-Am Spyder and the Morgan three-wheeler. However, cost will obviously be a factor and given the amount of possible options listed in the patents, no doubt various versions will be offered to cater for different price brackets – although currently a price of $20,000 is being bandied around as general figure.
One thing is for sure given Polaris’s recent track record and the ability to use several different dealer networks from its range to gain maximum coverage, it could pose a real threat to existing products when it finally hits the street!
Image taken from here