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A disturbing trend, indeed. This is hardly isolated to motorcycle production. The current business situation gives advantages for moving the plant to the Kumamoto, Japan plant rather than in Ohio for 44,000 large Gold Wing touring and VTX cruiser motorcycles built last year and employs 450 US workers who mostly assemble kits of parts made overseas and shipped to Ohio for assembly.

So where are the profits, the investment dollars and research dollars spawned from purchase of US-assembled foreign owned products being spent? After all, Japan is a lot closer to China than the US is.

Honda's U.S. market share for large street motorcycles fell in 2007 to 14.2 percent from 15.1 percent a year earlier, according to data released last week by rival Harley-Davidson.

Sure, the workers are being re-assigned to the auto plant, but that is due to strong (for now) sales of those products. When China is buying more Hondas, and the US consumers get no further IRS "spend me" checks in the mail and stop buying so many Honda cars, what happens then? True growth would have seen associates hired to fill those jobs with no layoffs at the motorcycle plant.


Honda said motorcycle production at Marysville and at the Hamamatsu plant in Japan will be consolidated at an expanded 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," said Akio Hamada, president and chief executive of Honda of America.

The Japanese plant will have a capacity of 600,000 motorcycles a year. Capacity at Marysville is 75,000.

No decision has been made about what to do with the Marysville plant.

The Motorcycle Industry Council estimates that 1.11 million motorcycles were sold in the USA in 2007, down from 1.19 million in 2006. Council spokesman Mike Mount noted, however, that motorcycle sales steadily increased for 14 years leading up to 2006, which was the best year for sales in 30 years.

Honda says it holds about 25% of U.S. sales of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and scooters.
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