Polaris Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Wine announced the production launch in a company statement on Wednesday, saying the Huntsville factory began turning out Ranger off-road vehicles in June.
Earlier this month, Wine added, the Polaris Alabama facility began producing the Slingshot, a three-wheeled roadster. (See a video below.)
In January 2015, Polaris announced that it had picked a 453-acre site in Huntsville to build off-road vehicles at a new production center. The company’s 600,000-square-foot facility is expected to employ at least 1,700 people at full capacity, and the work force could reach 2,000 by 2020.
Alabama beat out at least 14 states to win what was code-named “Project Axle” and its investment of at least $127 million.
Polaris and Huntsville are a good match, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. The company is known for its engineering prowess, while the city has a large concentration of highly skilled workers, thanks to the significant presence of military contractors and technology and aerospace firms.
“From automobiles and airplanes to ships and rockets, Alabamians build them all,” Canfield said. “Now we can add off-road vehicles to the list of world-class products made in Alabama. Polaris is a strong addition to our roster of globally competitive advanced manufacturers.”
The Polaris facility is expected to have a significant economic impact on the Huntsville region.
According to estimates by the Alabama Department of Commerce, the facility will have a direct economic impact of $124 million over 15 years, with an additional indirect impact of $283 million in that time frame. Direct wages over 15 years are estimated at $1.8 billion.
Minnesota-based Polaris, which recorded 2015 sales of $4.7 billion, is a leading producer of off-road vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and side-by-side vehicles. The company also owns the Victory and Indian motorcycle brands.