Thursday, March 19, 2020

Harley-Davidson Shutters U.S. Plants

 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (March 19, 2020) BSB — Harley-Davidson has been closely watching the coronavirus situation since January and are taking proactive measures in the interest of health and safety of its employees, dealers and consumers.

The company is temporarily suspending the majority of production at its U.S. manufacturing facilities through March 29 to help support employee health and further bolster coronavirus containment efforts.

Facilities affected are York Vehicle Operations in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin facilities Tomahawk Operations and Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations.

“We recognize the unprecedented nature of this global crisis. In order to best support our employees and following the social distancing guidance issued by public health authorities, we are temporarily suspending the majority of production at our U.S. manufacturing facilities,” said Jochen Zeitz, acting CEO and president, Harley-Davidson. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to prioritize employee health and safety.”

Harley-Davidson officials said they will continue monitoring the situation closely and make additional adjustments as necessary in accordance with World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The majority of its United States production employees will be on temporary layoff with medical benefits. The company will use this idle time to continue their deep cleaning and disinfecting its production areas and common areas to further protect workers for when they return back to work.

Harley-Davidson closed its Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility after an employee tested positive for coronavirus and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, per the company’s coronavirus response protocol.

On Monday, Harley-Davidson asked employees at its Milwaukee-area headquarters and Product Development Center, except those business-critical roles that must be done onsite, to work remotely through at least the end of March.

The plant in Springettsbury had about 950 employees in 2018 when the company announced it would add an additional 450 there because Harley-Davidson was shuttering its facility in Kansas City. The Springettsbury plant had about 2000 employees a decade earlier.

Earlier Wednesday, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler suspended all of their North American production plants to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Additionally, the company is proactively working with its dealers to assess individual impacts and its encouraging dealers to follow the public health guidelines in their communities for the safety of its consumers. In accordance with social distance guidelines, all Harley-Davidson sponsored events have been cancelled until mid-April.

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Harley-Davidson President Steps Down

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (February 29, 2020) BSB — Harley-Davidson, Inc. has announced that Matthew Levatich has stepped down as President and CEO and as a member of the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors has appointed Jochen Zeitz as acting President and CEO, a current board member who has also been named Chairman of the Board. Current Chairman of the Board, Michael Cave, is now Presiding Director.

The company plans to use an external search firm to undertake a search for a new CEO, and a further announcement will be made at a later date.

"The Board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson," said Zeitz in a statement. "Matt was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Matt for his 26 years of service to Harley-Davidson. He has worked tirelessly to navigate the Company through a period of significant industry change while ensuring the preservation of one of the most iconic brands in the world."

Harley has been struggling with declining sales in the U.S., its biggest market, as it tries to adapt to an aging customer base while looking to expand markets overseas.

The announcement of the leadership change, made after the markets closed, pushed Harley’s shares up 5% in after-hours trading. They had fallen 2.3% with the broader markets during the trading day.

Harley’s closing share price Friday was down 18% for the year.

Harley reported a net profit of $423.6 million in 2019, but it made only $13.5 million in the fourth quarter.
Levatich will assist with the transition through the end of March. Harley-Davidson, Inc. was founded in 1903.

SOURCE: Reuters

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Anti Profiling Bill Passes

Boise, Idaho, USA (February 26, 2020) BSB — Legislation pushed by Nampa Rep. Robert Anderst for the past three years to forbid “motorcycle profiling” by law enforcement — deciding to pull someone over or arrest or search them solely because they’re riding a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle gear — handily passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The 25-9 vote came after similar legislation died in the Senate last year on a 17-18 vote; and the year before that, after passing the House unanimously, it was killed on a 13-22 vote in the Senate. This year’s bill, SB 1292, started in the Senate.

As they have for the past two years, motorcycling enthusiasts and members of motorcycle groups turned out in big numbers to testify in favor of the bill in committee, saying they’ve been profiled by law enforcement officers when they were abiding by all laws.

This year’s bill, like last year’s, in addition to defining and forbidding motorcycle profiling, also states that it’s not creating any new basis for lawsuits. To become law, it now needs House passage and the governor’s signature.

SOURCE: Idaho Press

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

H-D in talks with Hero MotoCorp

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (February 19, 2020) BSB — Seeking a bigger share of India, the world’s largest motorcycle market, Harley-Davidson has reportedly been in talks with Hero MotoCorp, a manufacturer of small bikes and scooters based in India.

While a partnership doesn't appear imminent, Hero Chairman Pawan Munjal was quoted by The Times of India saying that if Harley wants it, “The sooner it happens, it’s good for everyone.”

It would not be surprising that Harley-Davidson, the world’s largest maker of heavyweight motorcycles would want to collaborate with Hero, one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, to gain a better foothold in Asia.

A prototype of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be manufactured in China with Zheijiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd. for sale in Asia.

Harley has partnered with a Chinese manufacturer to build small bikes for China, and it opened an assembly plant in Thailand to produce most of the company's motorcycles sold in the European Union, China and Southeast Asia.

"This is the era of partnerships, and when the right kind of partnership comes our way, or we are able to get around to one, we would be willing to do that," Munjal was quoted as saying.

India is an important market for Harley-Davidson, especially as it continues to develop smaller, more versatile motorcycles and its U.S. sales have declined for 12 consecutive quarters.

The company is committed to having a more accessible bike in India, but anything else is "rumors and speculation," said Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Patricia Sweeney.

Hero has a history in Wisconsin, having once owned a 49% share of the former EBR Racing, a motorcycle manufacturer in East Troy founded by former Harley executive and motorcycle racer Erik Buell.

Eight years ago, Hero brought in Buell bike designers from East Troy to work with its 300-member research team in India. Hero also had a technology agreement with Buell for engineering support and sponsored Buell’s U.S. racing team.

Hero was formerly known as Hero Honda, a joint venture with Honda Motor Co. that ended in 2010. After the split, Hero shopped for a new technology partner and found Buell. The partnership also gave Hero a presence in the U.S. marketplace.

The partnership didn’t last long, though, as Buell closed its East Troy plant in 2015 with bikes left unfinished on the assembly line and the company filing for Chapter 128 receivership, a state court procedure similar to bankruptcy.

EBR was the sequel to Erik Buell Racing, which was a sequel to Buell Motorcycle Co., which Harley-Davidson owned for more than a decade before dropping the brand in 2008.

SOURCE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel