Harley-Davidson to Lay Off 118 at York Plant as Softail Production Moves to KC

Harley-Davidson's York Plant

The York Daily Record is reporting that Harley-Davidson is moving all production of its Softail cruisers to Kansas City, eliminating 118 jobs at its Springettsbury Township plant in York, Pennsylvania as a result. The layoff affects 110 hourly workers, the other eight either salaried workers or contractors. Prior to the move, Harley produced five Softail models at York and two in Kansas City.

Harley reportedly informed employees in November 2015 that the company intended to move production of Softails to KC starting with the 2018 model year. Workers affected by the move “will have the opportunity to apply for jobs in Kansas City.”

Touring motorcycles and trikes will continue to be produced at York. Harley-Davidson reduced shipments of its 2017 motorcycles in the first quarter of 2017 in an effort to help dealers sell down their 2016 models. For the year, Harley-Davidson said it anticipates “full-year motorcycle shipments to be flat to down modestly in comparison to 2016.”

Harley Reportedly Set to Lay Off 200 Employees in the Fall

Harley-Davidson logo

Reports by The York Daily Record (YRD) and Milwaukee Sentinel Journal state Harley-Davidson is preparing to lay off approximately 200 employees this fall. The cuts come as a Harley adjusts “our production plan to align with 2016 guidance.”

That guidance includes a cut in shipment projections to 264,000 to 269,000 motorcycles announced in Harley’s second quarter financial report of 2016, down from the initial projections of 269,000 to 274,000 released in its first quarter 2016 report. This comes on the heels of lowered shipment totals in 2015 as well which were first projected to be in the 282,000 to 287,000 range before scaling back due in part to aggressive price cuts by competitors and a strong dollar hurting sales internationally. Retail motorcycle sales on the whole were down 1.3% for in 2015 with 264,627 units sold compared to 2014 totals of 267,999 motorcycles.

According to news reports, the layoffs will be divided between its York, Menomonee Falls, and Tomahawk plants. The York Daily Record reports 117 workers will be laid off at the York, Pa. assembly plant that handles production of Harley’s Touring, Trike, Softail and CVO motorcycles, while the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports 35 layoffs are slated for Harley’s windshield and plastic-parts plant in Tomahawk, Wis. This leaves 48 cuts to Harley’s engine division at Menomonee Falls, Wis. These numbers may vary as “some of the reductions will come from not filling vacant positions” according to YDR.

While recent sales have been slow, the curve has the potential to swing upward as Harley-Davidson just released new engine platforms, a 107” and 114” version of its new eight valve, single cam Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin. The 107” Milwaukee-Eight will power Harley-Davidson’s Touring motorcycles and trikes while the 114” can be found in its premium CVO models. Harley-Davidson also updated suspension on its tourers, another attractive factor to potential buyers.