Polaris Industries Inc. is expanding its manufacturing capabilities to the southeastern United States with plans to build a 600,000-square-foot facility in Huntsville, Ala., to focus on off-road vehicle production.
“It will be able to handle all our products, but it is mainly for off-road and our side-by-sides,” said Ed Heffernan, director of international operations, in a phone interview.
Minneapolis-based Polaris is entering global markets while also is expanding its North American capabilities. In 2009 the company opened a plant in Monterrey, Mexico. In September, Polaris opened a 345,000-square-foot assembly plant in Opole, Poland.
The company also has had a joint venture in India with Eicher Motors Ltd. since 2012.
Polaris executives joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in announcing the new project on Jan. 9.
“This new facility will complement our already strong and growing North American manufacturing footprint by reducing pressure on our existing facilities and enable each to remain focused on their current production lines as we continue to meet the demand for our innovative and quality products,” said Ken Pucel, executive vice president of operations, engineering and lean, in a news release.
The company said it will design a lean and flexible facility that will have multiple assembly lines. Core processes will include vehicle assembly, chassis and body painting, welding, fabrication and injection molding.
At full capacity it will employ at least 1,700.
The new facility, according to Heffernan, will be developed in phases. It will assemble parts first, with the injection molding capacity added in the second phase, in the first half of 2016.
The company will break ground on the new site in the first quarter of this year, with plans to have it ready for the second quarter of 2016. It is being built on a 453-acre site.
Polaris said that Huntsville was chosen due to its skilled workforce, history of technology and innovation, existing utility infrastructure and strong local and state resources supporting economic development. The company looked at 124 sites in 14 states before narrowing the field to three finalists.
Polaris makes off-road vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and on-road electric/hybrid powered vehicles. It employs 7.800 and had 2013 sales of $3.8 billion. Polaris is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.