FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. – Kawasaki’s wide-eyed performance is legendary, but an equally important form of innovation was the Lincoln, Nebraska assembly plant that opened in 1974. The plant was groundbreaking on several fronts, primarily as the first assembly plant in America for a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. In subsequent decades, several other Japanese automotive and motorcycle manufacturers would follow Kawasaki’s lead.
The reasons for the creation of the Lincoln plant were both complex and important. First, in 1971 a devaluation of the US dollar substantially raised the prices of Japanese products. Second, a 10% import tariff meant to protect American products would likewise boost the price of Japanese imports. Third, Kawasaki needed to expand production capacity to meet growing retail demand. Finally, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) wanted to shorten the supply line between Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) and its dealers. Clearly, the Nebraska facility would be a win-win for everyone. But first it would have to get built.
Envisioned by KMC President Yoji “George” Hamawaki, plans for a facility in Nebraska were set …Read the Rest