In comments to the recent announcement about Harley Davidson possibly moving their factory from York, PA, some said if they moved outside the U.S. costs might be lower but they might lose a lot of Harley customers. It’s interesting that another story appeared a couple of days ago reporting that Kawasaki is planning to move production of medium and large motorcycles from Japan to Thailand. Though large displacement motorcycles have been produced in the U.S., Kawasaki would be the first Japanese manufacturer to move production of the big bikes to an emerging country. I wonder how the Japanese customers and employees feel about that, there’s a chance they will not care at all, or maybe they will, I have no idea. It might depend on whether any large motorcycle production stays in Japan. Will anyone else in any other country give it a thought? Probably not.
The article also says Honda is considering the move of some medium size motorcycle production to Thailand as well.
As far as Harley is concerned, the York move, if it happens, will be to one of 4 cities in the U.S., however, I recall seeing some reports they may begin producing bikes in India for the Indian market since high import tariffs make imported bikes extremely expensive. To answer the title question of this post, Royal Enfield moved some production to India, before the British home factory finally closed and production continued on only in India. (I’m not inferring anything with that point, just making a note.)
Small displacement Japanese bikes have long been produced in many countries, with this move, the bigger bikes are moving, too. It’s an interesting world when so many companies are finding it difficult to produce motorcycles, or any other product, cost effectively in the same country where the company was formed and still resides. Moving some production is one thing, moving all of it is something quite different. What if all Kawasakis were made in Thailand? Would it matter? How about Hondas? What if Japanese motorcycles were no longer Japanese?
Are there any motorcycles, companies or any other products that would utterly fail if not produced in their home country? Is any product so American or Japanese or (fill in your choice of country) that it simply can’t be successfully produced and marketed if completely moved from the originating country? I’m beginning to wonder.
Related: Harley Checking New Factory Sites