Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Harley agrees to keep Pennsylvania plant open; Johnson Controls-Saft will provide lithium battery for new hybrid vehicle

Harley agrees to keep Pennsylvania plant open

Harley-Davidson Inc. has confirmed that it will keep its York County, Pa., plant open after union workers there agreed to give up about half of their jobs and take substantial cuts in wages.

Milwaukee-based Harley said it will move forward with plans to restructure the Springettsbury Township motorcycle operations, the company’s largest manufacturing facility.

The announcement came after members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175 voted in favor of a new seven-year contract that will go into effect Feb. 2. The new pact includes a reduction in job classifications, a cut in the average wage and a maximum of four weeks of vacation time, depending on seniority.

Also, Harley said it will reduce the number of hourly workers from about 1,950 to about 1,000.

The facility will employ about 150 salaried employees, compared with about 270 today.

Harley had threatened to move the work to Kentucky unless the York County workers agreed to concessions and the company received some incentives from the State of Pennsylvania, which agreed to provide the company with about $15 million in incentives for capital improvements and training at the plant.

"A restructured York operation will enable the plant to be competitive and sustainable for the future, and the new labor agreement is critical to making that happen," said Harley president and chief executive officer Keith Wandell.

The company will consolidate the plant under one roof and focus on motorcycle assembly, metal fabrication and paint.

When fully operational in 2012, the restructuring is expected to generate about $100 million in annual operating savings for the company.

Johnson Controls-Saft will provide lithium battery for new hybrid vehicle

Johnson Controls-Saft has been chosen as the lithium-ion battery supplier for Azure Dynamic’s Force Drive integration on the Ford Transit Connect Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

The all-electric van will be in production beginning in late 2010.

"Johnson Controls-Saft is committed to the commercialization of hybrid and electric vehicles," said Ray Shemanski, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager of Hybrid Systems for Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. "We are proud to be chosen for the BEV and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with both Azure and Ford Motor Company to advance these leading-edge technologies. This partnership is underscored by our investment of more than $600 million in manufacturing and infrastructure development."

Commercial transportation in an urban environment accounts for 12 percent of total miles driven, yet is responsible for 25 percent of total greenhouse emissions. The Transit Connect BEV would eliminate gas costs and enable fleet owners to more accurately forecast the cost of doing business. It has a targeted range of 80 miles on all-electric power, and is the first of four electric vehicles Ford plans to build in its global commercial vehicle program.

"We’ve worked with Johnson Controls-Saft on our Balance Hybrid Electric delivery and shuttle bus project, and are confident that their batteries offer a light, powerful design with a longer life than most current battery technologies," said Curt Huston, Azure Dynamics chief operating officer. "Both Azure and Ford have existing relationships with Johnson Controls-Saft, bringing further synergies to the project."

In addition to its work with Azure, Johnson Controls-Saft is in production with the Mercedes S-Class hybrid, currently on sale in Europe and the United States. Johnson Controls-Saft also will supply the Li-ion hybrid batteries for the BMW 7-Series ActiveHybrid available in 2010 and Ford’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle available in 2012. The Transit Connect BEV will use the same battery technology that is currently installed in the Ford Escape test fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, also supplied by Johnson Controls-Saft.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display