Honda Will End U.S. Bike Production
Honda will stop producing motorcycles in the United States next year as part of a global strategy to improve the competitiveness of its product.
The company says its Marysville, Ohio-based plant, which builds Gold Wings and VTX cruisers, will cease production next spring. No layoffs are planned as the manufacturer says the 450 plant associates will be given job offers at other Honda plants.
Honda plans to move the motorcycle production from Ohio and at an older plant in Japan to a new motorcycle plant in Kumamoto, Japan.
“This move allows us to improve the competitiveness and appeal of our products by applying the latest technologies and production systems at one efficient location,” Akio Hamada, president and CEO of Honda of America, said in a press release.
“This was a complex decision tied to the important role that Honda in Ohio plays within our North American automobile operations.”
Honda of America set a company record for auto production last year with the manufacture of more than 701,000 passenger cars and light trucks at its two Ohio assembly plants.
Honda does not expect to have any interruption in supply of new motorcycles or motorcycle parts because of the production change.
The Marysville Motorcycle Plant opened in 1979 as the first Honda plant in the United States. Last year, the company said it produced approximately 44,000 Gold Wing and VTX cruisers. Plant manager Jan Gansheimer told the Associated Press that she did not expect the current production of 120 motorcycles a day to be immediately affected.
Besides currently manufacturing motorcycles in the United States, Honda also builds ATVs and PWC at a plant in South Carolina.
Polaris Expects An Increase In First-Quarter Sales
Polaris Industries expects an increase in total sales for its first quarter thanks primarily to elevated UTV and PG&A sales, the company said in a statement Feb. 28.
First quarter 2008 earnings from continuing operations are expected to be in the range of $0.44 to $0.49 per diluted share, a $0.05 per share increase over the previously issued guidance range. This compares to $0.34 per diluted share from continuing operations earned in the first quarter of 2007.
The company expects sales to increase in the range of 15-18 percent for the first quarter over the prior year period.
The increases in the first-quarter sales and earnings per share guidance is primarily the result of better PG&A and side-by-side vehicle businesses during the first two months of the year. The Federal Reserve Board’s move to cut interest rates during the first quarter also had an impact.
Good snowfall in much of North America has contributed to a longer snowmobile riding season, which is positively impacting snowmobile-related PG&A sales in the first quarter, Polaris says. Demand for the company’s UTV vehicles, particularly the new Ranger RZR and Ranger Crew, continues to be strong during the first quarter of 2008.
BMW Motorcycle Names New Vice President
BMW Motorcycle USA announced Pieter de Waal will be vice president beginning April 1.
de Waal is replacing Arturo Pineiro, who will be the president of BMW Central and South America. de Waal has been with the BMW Group since 1994. He currently heads worldwide sales and marketing for BMW Motorcycle based in Munich. Prior to that he worked for BMW Group in Great Britain and South Africa as general manager of BMW Motorcycle and technical director of BMW Motorsport.
Japanese OEMs Cutback On Production, Exports
The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association reported motorcycle production and export decreases for the first month of the year, according to statistics released Feb. 27. The association’s four major members are Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.
For January 2008, motorcycle production was down 20.2 percent compared to January 2007, to 114,214 units. It is a production decrease on the same month of the previous year for five consecutive months.
Honda and Yamaha posted production cuts greater than 30 percent. Honda production was down 31.7 percent to 26,954 units for the month. Yamaha made 29,207 bikes in January, down 30.5 percent. Suzuki production dropped 12.6 percent to 36,472 units for the first month of 2008. Kawasaki remains a bright spot in the group, increasing output 8.7 percent to 21,578 units.
Exports in January 2008 hit 106,746 units, down 6.3 percent compared to the same month of the previous year. January was the fourth consecutive month motorcycle exports compared to the same month of the past year have fallen.
Honda again recorded the sharpest cutbacks, exporting only 14,361 units, 32.1 percent fewer than in January 2007. Suzuki also reported decreased exports, down 3.6 percent to 42,038 for the first month of 2008. Kawasaki increased exports slightly, up 1.9 percent to 20,903 units for January 2008. Yamaha also upped exports, to 29,444 units (2.9 percent) for the month.
AMA Announces Board of Directors Election Results
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) announced the results for corporate members of its board of directors: Wayne Curtin, Harley-Davidson Motor Co.; Nick McCabe, Ducati North America; and Jim Williams, Kawasaki Motors Corp., an AMA press release stated.
Curtin and Williams are replacing corporate members from their companies that did not seek re-election. Andy Goldfine of Aerostich/Riderwearhouse was re-elected to another term. The new corporate members will join the Southeast Region.
The press release also stated that Jeff Smith of the North Central Region resigned. Stan Simpson of the South Central Region was elected to chairman; Carl Reynolds is vice chairman; Jon-Erik Burleson is assistant treasurer and Jim Williams was elected assistant secretary. These board members sit on the executive committee, along with at-large executive committee member John Ulrich of Roadracing World Publishing.
The AMA Board of Directors consists of 12 members. Six directors are elected by the general membership in their respective regions and six corporate directors are elected by the corporate membership.
Can-Am Spyder Market Availability Expands in North America
BRP recently announced the second phase of North American states and regions that the Spyder roadster will be available in.
The states and regions include Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Manitoba, according to a BRP press release.
BRP accelerated the deployment because of strong market demand. Chris Dawson, vice president of strategic planning of the Spyder program, says the demand surpassed the company’s initial thoughts.
“The impact of creating a new category of on-road vehicles is becoming clearer than ever to us,” said Dawson.
The international countries where the Spyder will be available include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The roadster’s worldwide deployment is scheduled to be complete within the next two-three years.
Motorcycle Industry Council Welcomes Nine New Members
The Motorcycle Industry Council’s board of directors approved nine new members since September.