Harley-Davidson dumps Trump, moves to cut jobs as demand falls

Harley-Davidson Inc, the motorcycle maker that President Donald Trump praised for its US manufacturing presence, is instead cutting American jobs amidst a shrinking market.

US consumers are no more enamoured by hunky old bikes. They are looking for more agile, technology-rich vehicles. And that is where Harley may yield ground to Mahindra with its electric scooters.

President Trump had said in February that Harley is a ''great example'' of successful American manufacturing. But, the bike maker did not feel so as slumping demand for pricey bikes leave the company with too much inventory necessitating production cuts at home.

A spokesman of the United Steelworkers said 180 workers are being laid off in Kansas City, Missouri, and Milwaukee. Katie Whitmore, a Harley spokeswoman, said the company would share details on the job cuts with employees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which also represents Harley employees, said the union is still gathering information.

''Not long ago, President Trump hailed this company as a model of American manufacturing,'' Mike Bolton, a district director for the United Steelworkers, said in an emailed statement. ''Shortly thereafter, management announced plans to open production facilities in Thailand. Now we get word that 180 hard-working Americans will be losing their jobs.''

Harley's layoffs belie Trump's claims that he would spur US economic growth by making it easier for businesses to create jobs and build plants.

While the US market remains challenging, the company is building a factory in Thailand, to balance supply with demand to protect its brand.

While Harley will be serving markets in the Asia Pacific region,  Levatich said the facility will assemble bikes using components shipped from the US.

And, despite the demand fall, Harley reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.48, beating consensus by 10 cents.

Harley CEO Matt Levatich told analysts on Tuesday that the company planned to make hourly employment reductions.

The company's shares plunged as much as 12 per cent- the most in more than a year - after the company forecast annual motorcycle shipments may decline as much as 8 per cent.