Maker of American iron, Harley-Davidson (H-D) is closing its Kansas City, US plant in 2019 with the loss of 800 jobs, while reporting a drop in net income of 82% for the fourth quarter of 2017. The Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer made only USD 8.3 million (RM32.25 million) compared to USD 47.18 million (RM183.34 million) for the same period in 2016.

This was attributed to a new US tax regulation that cost H-D USD 53.1 million (RM206.35 million) as well as costs arising from a product recall that required the company to fork out USD 29.4 million (RM114.25 million). However, total revenue was USD 1.23 billion (RM4.78 billion), a USD 120 million (RM466.32 million) increase over the previous year’s income of USD 1.11 billion (RM4.31 billion), reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Worldwide, H-D saw a drop in retail sales of 6.7% in 2017, compared to the previous year. For the US domestic market, H-D motorcycle sales dropped by 8.5% and international sales fell by almost half, to 3.9%.

An ageing customer demographic has had a severe impact on motorcycle sales in the large-displacement sector, with many H-D riders leaving the sport as they get older. Efforts to attract a younger type of rider has seen H-D announce the launch of the Milwaukee 8 V-twin, as well as an ambitious plan to introduce 100 new models over the next five years.

“Our actions to address the current environment, through disciplined supply and cost management, position us well as we drive to achieve our long-term objectives to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally,” said H-D president and chief executive officer Matt Levatich.

Amongst those objectives is the setting up of a H-D assembly plant in Thailand, slated to come online in 2018, as well as the H-D university in India, intended to train technicians specialising in H-D motorcycles for Asia. Other plans include the development of an electric motorcycle, continuing the work began with Project Livewire, which was to have a 2021 launch.