Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"American Iron" moving to Thailand

Harley laying off 800 workers and closing Kansas City plant:
Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle company, is set to lay off hundreds of American workers at its Kansas City, Missouri factory while creating jobs in Thailand. 
After laying off nearly 200 American manufacturing workers last year, as Breitbart Newsreported, Harley-Davidson is expected to fully close its Kansas City manufacturing facility, leaving 800 workers out of work. 
Harley-Davidson executives say about 400 jobs will be sent to the corporation’s York, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant, but union workers allege their jobs are being sent overseas to Thailand.
Harley is not doing particularly well.  They have (so far) failed to attract younger riders, I expect because there are high quality alternatives at a much lower cost.  You're looking at $30k for a touring bike, and this is simply beyond the means of lots of younger riders.

And so cost cutting becomes imperative.  But it's sad to see such an iconic American brand struggle like this.


UPDATE 15 May 2018 20:55: Glen Filthie has some thoughts on Harleys and riders, and what riding is really about.  Recommended.


SiGraybeard said...

And management is apparently too stupid to realize that "Made in America" is part of their image. It's part of what drives their sales.

Borepatch said...

Yeah. This seems like brand damage.

riverrider said...

they have done most of the damage themselves. they rip us off for services, parts, accessories etc for our bikes. yes I ride a Harley. nobody likes getting ripped off though. younger folks can't afford a place of their own much less a 30k bike, not on a starbucks salary.

LindaG said...

Sad to see. To me, the union wage does the damage. Just like Detroit and a lot of orher businesses.

Beans said...

The Union Wage, the poor concern over the high costs of the end product, the, quite frankly, piss-poor reputation of their product over a long period of time, all have killed HD.

I live in a college town. I see a lot of motorcycles. Crotch-rockets and other cheap, and not so cheap, import bikes. But affordable bikes.

Where's Harley's economy line? Where is the little 400cc ride around town machine that the average person can afford, that also won't fall apart or leak oil like, well, a Harley (bad reputation still.)

And speaking of reputation, well, they self-perpetuated theirs. Think of a Harley rider and you immediately think of some biker-gang-wannabe weekend rider and the damned noisy machine (Loud Pipes Saves Lives, but Loud Pipes Piss People Off.) Where was the advertising campaign aimed at accepting Joe-Normal along with Biker-Bob? I never saw a campaign where Joe-Normal is tooling along on his econo-Harley and Biker-Bob and his gang pull up, look Joe-Normal over, and give him the two-finger salute and ride away. Where's that campaign, HD?

They did it to themselves. I lament the loss of yet another American icon, but, again, they did it to themselves.

Ironically, it is 'Don't Get Woke, Go Broke.' They didn't adapt to new times.

ASM826 said...

Take the line to Thailand and there will be 125cc scooter bikes with the HD logo.

Steve said...

This was in the news here a while back. If people aren't buying your product, what exactly are you supposed to do? Keep building and paying workers from what, exactly?

One article I read said one reason for moving manufacturing overseas is import tariffs on complete bikes. They can build parts here, then ship them overseas for final assembly to avoid the tariffs.

They've been down before, I believe. Maybe they'll figure things out and make a comeback.

Borepatch said...

Andrew, I've found Harley riders to be a pretty friendly sort. Certainly my local HOG chapter is.

Doesn't solve the problem of low end bikes starting at $9k, but I don't think it's the riders scaring young folks off.

B said...

From the article:

"“I am being directly affected by a corporate decision that I had no say in,” Pence continued."

And that, right there, is part of the issue: The fact that he even has any reason to believe that he has any say, as a line worker. That he THINKS he gets a say.

I understand the reason behind moving. Cheaper labor that doesn't think they have a say in how things are run, and are simply glad to have a job.

Harley does have an issue in that few new riders are buying their product. In fact, there are fewer rider, period.

And your HOG chapter might be pretty friendly, but lots aren't. And HOG isn't all the riders, either.

drjim said...

One of the things turning young people off on HD is the crudeness of the basic design.

Overhead cams? What's that?

Even firing order? Why change?

Face it, Harleys are a niche product that only appeals to a certain demographic...

Will said...

Actually, HD has had imported parts on their bikes for nearly forever. Which parts, and how many of them, has varied over the decades. Front fork assemblies and shocks, along with instruments and other electrics, came from Japan. I can't state what is current, though.

Gassius Maximus said...

This and more complaints from the company that lost out to Japanese bikes for want of an electric starter over the "kick-start" bike back in the day.
If you won't innovate or keep up with customer demands, others will gladly eat your lunch and your dinner.

Michael said...

I will always pay more for higher quality products. It only makes sense to buy American made products when those products are superior or at least as good as the foreign made stuff. Can you honestly say HD has a superior product that justifies the price tag? Surprised they are still in business at all to be honest.

Ken said...

Marginal utility is in the eye of the beholder.

That said, if I'm going to have 30 large worth of iron that doesn't idle worth a damn, it's gonna be a (mumble)-second gasser, and I won't care that it doesn't idle, 'cause I'm only gonna drive it a quarter mile at a time anyway.