The news Thursday that Harley Davidson was laying off 118 workers in York is part of a larger plan by the company to consolidate production on a single line of motorcycles, which should save costs for the iconic American motorcycle company.
The 118 jobs lost in York will be added to the company’s workforce in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a plan to shift production of Harley-Davidson cruisers to the midwest plant. Beginning next year, the company said York will build all touring and trike motorcycles, while Kansas City will build cruiser and middleweight motorcycles.
“Producing all cruisers in a single location reduces capital costs and eliminates redundancy of tooling and equipment,” the company said in a statement. The company said that affected workers in York were told of the line shift in 2015, and no other layoffs are planned at this time.
The company is looking to cut costs as motorcycle sales have dropped in recent years — primarily in the US, where more than half of the company’s sales occur.
The following chart shows the changes in sales during the first quarter of each of the last several years:
Harley-Davidson has focused in increasing ridership internationally. And while the company has seen sales gains in some areas — Latin American sales were up 24% in the first quarter of this year — those increases have not been enough to offset lower sales volumes in the U.S. Last year U.S. retail sales were down 3.9 percent, while international sales increased by 2.3 percent.
According to remarks by Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich, the company’s longterm goals are focused on growing its international business to equate to half of its annual volume.