By on June 26, 2018

Last week, we discussed how the motorcycle industry’s total failure to entice new riders for over a decade has come back to bite it in the ass. Two-wheeled ownership declined drastically in the United States after the Great Recession and never really bounced back. Blame a disinterested population of youngsters with less discretionary funds and few entry-level options to consider.

I speculated that automakers could be on a similar path, despite the passenger car segment being more of a necessity for average commuters and less apt to collapse outright. But that isn’t to presume they might not be subject to similar pitfalls, and we’ve a new one to consider. Harley-Davidson, which serves as the poster child for the motorcycle industry’s current crisis, recently announced it will end all U.S. production of motorcycles sold in Europe.

Those bikes will now be manufactured overseas. The company said in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that retaliatory tariffs levied by the European Union on motorcycles exported from the U.S. jumped from 6 percent to 31 percent. Harley-Davidson’s already expensive products come at an additional premium in Europe, and the the company estimates the new fines will add another $2,200 per motorcycle, on average.

President Trump issued a response to the decision on Monday, saying the company surrendered and “waved the white flag.”

Still, he acknowledged that the company issued plans to move Kansas City production to Thailand prior to the global trade war. In fact, H-D has assembled its newer mid-sized bikes in Bawal, India for years. Those models were intended as an entry point for new rides, part of a plan to expand sales in the developing world. Keen to preserve its image of “American Made” motorcycles at home, the brand also launched domestic assembly of its 500 and 750cc Street models for the North American market.

“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them,” Trump tweeted. “If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”

According to the Associated Press, Harley said global tariffs left it with few alternatives if it wants to remain competitive in the European market. “Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe,” the company said in a prepared statement.

That’s the lesson to take take away from this. While the escalating trade war aims to protect domestic jobs and give other tariff-happy nations a taste of their own medicine, there are consequences. Harley hasn’t elaborated on job losses in the U.S., but it’s difficult to imagine the situation not resulting in staffing cuts. Numerous outlets are already faulting the Trump tariffs with future H-D layoffs, but let’s not forget the company already culled its workforce once this year and has been mulling plans to move some manufacturing out of the U.S. It’s equally plausible that the company is using the tariffs as a convenient excuse.

As always, getting to the truth means peering into the fog. However, even if Harley-Davidson was committed to moving production out of America, the escalating trade war definitely didn’t help change its mind.

Let’s bring the automotive industry back into the mix. Since automakers (the executives, not the engineers) predominantly care about shareholders and stock value, it would be stupid to presume they wouldn’t follow Harley’s lead on this. While tariffs may force some companies to build here, they also have the perfect excuse to build somewhere cheaper and exclude less-popular models from domestic lineups to save money. Ford’s already planning on trimming its passenger car lineup in the U.S., and you had better believe where the majority are built has something to do with that.

Tariffs seriously screw with the global supply chain. What’s happening with American motorcycles in Europe could also happen with American-built autos if the trade war escalates. Trump has already said he’d put a 20-percent tariff on European cars.

“Tariffs on imported cars, parts would be broadly credit negative for industry,” Moody’s Investors Service advised on Monday. “A 25-percent tariff on imported vehicles and parts would be negative for nearly every segment of the auto industry — carmakers, parts suppliers, car dealers, and transportation companies … Should any tariffs be levied, carmakers would need to absorb the cost to protect sales volumes while hurting profitability; increase prices to pass the tariff costs to customers, which could hurt sales; or a combination of both.”

To translate, domestic automakers will need to account for the cost of scaling back their foreign production. How they do that is up to them, but we’ve already seen how Harley-Davidson handled it. That’s a worst case scenario, of course. Ford and General Motors aren’t in the same situation as a motorcycle company that’s been hemorrhaging sales for a while. But automakers have a lot of eggs in a multitude of baskets and the automotive sector isn’t in peak condition right now, either. It’s often the weaker species that die out first when a ecosystem is being decimated.

Tariffs may be the way to go to ensure long-term domestic investment, at least while the United States remains such a profitable market. There’s also the chance that China or Europe will bend to the pressure or extend an olive branch by trying to negotiate. However, that doesn’t appear to be anyone’s strategy at the moment. And short-term implications could hamper automakers’ ability to conduct business normally. Hell, maybe the industry needs a swift kick in the groin. I just hope it can regain its composure after it crawls off the carpet.

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207 Comments on “Ailing Motorcycle Industry Could Be Canary in Coal Mine for Automakers – Part Two...”


  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    H-D has just been crapping on anything resembling a successful business model for so long I have ZERO sympathy.

    Absolutely nothing differentiates a new bike from a used one, and the used market is beyond saturated. Most of them spend 350 days a year in a garage under a blanket as it is and are basically new a decade after production.

    • 0 avatar
      phxmotor

      Why the drop in motorcycle sales?
      Simple.
      This new generation sees motorcycle deaths as
      a needless exposure to risk.
      Unaware drivers cause most motorcycle deaths.
      They know damn well that it is rarely the motorcyclist’s fault when a motorcyclist is killed in an accident.
      This new generation has heard these stories … over
      and over and over.
      The thrill of the ride … is simply deemed by the younger generation
      as being no longer worth the risk.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        I don’t ride my motorcycle (not a Harley) when going to the city. Too dangerous. I only ride on rural roads, no interstate highways, and to the two small towns near me, and on weekend rides. My GF’s nephew died while riding a year ago, not his fault, and he lived in a medium-sized city.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Not just the younger generation – *I* won’t ride a motorcycle despite being darned near 50 and having at least 50% gasoline coursing through my veins. The rest of the populace is just too distracted these days. It’s just not worth the risk, and by the time you wrap yourself up in sufficient protective gear it’s just a hot miserable experience (I did actually get my bike license at one point). My Spitfire allows a heck of a lot more fresh air, and gives at least some protection from the texting morons…

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          phxmotor and krhodes nail the real issue for declining sales and ridership. I’m at the age where I could enjoy a “toy” of some kind, but a motorcycle isn’t going to be it.

          I was considering a 500 Abarth, but after witnessing a few incidents on the road recently, I’m thinking I need to stick to something that will give me a decent chance of exiting an accident with minimal injuries.

          • 0 avatar
            IBx1

            @geozinger, definitely get the Abarth, I’ve been daily driving one for about a year now and it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        theBrandler

        Exactly this, after experiencing three colleagues die on their motorcycles in 4 years at one company, I get a disgusting feeling in my stomach every time I see a bike. They are death traps. I don’t remember the circumstances of the deaths, except that one day you come to work and someone isn’t there and then you find out “oh, he died yesterday riding home on his motorcycle”.

        Then to add to the disgust, when I met my wife-to-be, I find out her brother died on a motorcycle. Why her dad still rides is beyond me.

        And all that disgust is compounded by the general behavior I see of bikers. Bikes seem to turn normal people into assholes. Either weaving in and out of traffic, or roaring around making as much ungodly noise as possible, or worse, brake checking you, speeding off, and then brake checking you again.

        All of that combines to make a for a culture and risk that I want absolutely nothing to do with.

        This to me also explains why 3 wheeler sales are actually rising. I think more and more of my generation feels the same, and since three wheelers are generally rejected by the biker world, and are vastly safer since they are larger and far more visible, you escape both the culture and a majority of the risk associated with bikers/bikes. I was very tempted by the Polaris Slingshot, but it’s way too expensive for what it offers. Very fun though.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          @theBrandler: I think the reason why three wheelers are taking off is that old farts can still ride, but don’t have to worry about not being able to hold the thing up at traffic lights.

          Case in point: My FIL is approaching 70. He has a Yamaha cruiser, a 1969 Corvette, an Equinox and a GMC 1500 4X4. He DD’s the GMC, the ‘Nox is for his new wife and the Yamaha and Corvette collect dust because he can’t bend his knees to get in/on them.

          He still wants to ride, but even a Slingshot won’t work because of his knees.

          • 0 avatar
            theBrandler

            @geozinger

            Doesn’t your argument sorta defeat itself? Neither category of tadpole trike, be it straddle or sit-in, is accommodating to the aged or impaired.

            The traditional trikes with two at the back is usually what I see used by those who are impaired in some manner but still wish to ride as the seat can be made much more accommodating.

            If the dealer I spoke too knows anything, it is a different group of people who buy the tadpole trikes than buy normal bikes.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            In many respects trikes are much worse than bikes. As a “Three track” vehicle it is next to impossible to avoid potholes, heaves and other road obstacles.

            I doubt bike sales are down due to safety concerns.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I mentioned my FIL as he’s really hosed, since he can’t lift his legs high enough to get over ANY bike, two or three wheels.

            Admittedly, I lost my train of thought and conflated two different ideas.

            For the folks who can still mount a bike, the trikes will hold them up. But eventually, that won’t be enough.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I’ve spoken with emergency-room personnel who have told me that the most grievous and stomach-turning cases are often the victims of motorcycle accidents.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          fine by me. if I’m gonna go, I want to go out with a bang, all at once, doing something I enjoy.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @tonyola – I’ve seen some nasty sh!t in my life and the worst of the worst didn’t involve motorcycles.

          • 0 avatar
            pwrwrench

            Lou BC, I’ve known people that worked in emergency rooms. Their non-scientific bar graph of injuries was: (From most to least in numbers of people) Bicycle riders, People under 25 playing sports; football, baseball, basketball, etc, Car crash victims including pedestrians, Motorcycle riders. General stuff; falls, work related, burns, etc. And late at night and weekends; Gunshot and knife wounds.
            Often the worst injuries were motorcycle riders, and those were hit by 4 wheel vehicles.
            I’m sure this varies due to time and place.
            Once a work van drove up to the doors. Some guys got out and carried in a section of steel fence with another worker stuck in it. He fell off a building under construction got impaled on the fence so they cut out the section. After surgical removal and months of recovery he was okay.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            and even then, a lot of serious/fatal motorcycle crashes are the fault of the motorcyclist. There have been more than several reported motorcycle crashes in my area over the past couple of months, and a number of them were the fault of the rider.

            – squid punched his own ticket on I-94 at Southfield road because he was treating traffic like a slalom course and clipped a box truck
            – ‘nother squid wiped out on M-59 in Highland Township because he was RUI and riding like a jackass
            – some Harley ape cashed out on I-696 because he ran into the back of a truck.

            yes, you’re more vulnerable on a bike but if you keep your head out of your rear you learn what signs to look for. the most important one is that you never look at the driver of a car, you watch the wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I think a lot of the younger generation doesn’t want to ride a “cruiser” type bike either just as they don’t want to drive a Buick Park Avenue. They don’t want a big, heave, old man’s bike.

      For me personally, I don’t want a big heavy old man’s bike either but I grew up on dirt bikes and still ride a dual sport bike instead of a cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        theBrandler

        This makes sense to me. Cruisers still look like did in old 60’s movies. Not exactly inspiring to us youngins.

        I really wish more open concept vehicles were allowed on the road. Stuff like Factory Five’s 818, only without the whole “build it yourself” hurdle would be exactly what I want to go joy riding in.

        But no no, can’t have that, those are illegal to manufacture unless you build it yourself because your not allowed to be safer than a bike and less safe than a Civic…

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Flipper35 – Virtually everyone I know that rides street bikes started out on dirt bikes. I wonder if dirt bike sales are down too?

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    I was wondering why there would suddenly be a 31% tariff on US (only) motorcycles, and a quick search confirmed my suspicion of a response to the US steel tariff. I’m curious why this isn’t mentioned in the article, particularly in light of the President’s quotes?

    • 0 avatar
      Ce he sin

      It’s in the article now – maybe it’s been edited.

      Anyway, the EU announced a series of targeted tariffs to be enacted if Trump went ahead with his tariffs on steel. He decided to do so, knowing there would be consequences and the EU tariffs were duly enacted. Trump is not best pleased, having just had to climb down on his concentration camps for kids idea, and is now tweeting in impotent rage threatening HD with all kinds of taxes which it isn’t in his power to impose.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The EU and other historical USA allies have stated what their responses to tariffs would be. Those counter-tariffs have targeted symbolic USA companies like Harley Davidson or target parts of the USA that are swing states.

        I disagree with the author stating ” we discussed how the motorcycle industry’s total failure to entice new riders for over a decade has come back to bite it in the ass.”
        The majority of Asian and European motorcycle industries see the USA as a tiny portion of their global markets. Asia’s market is 100 times larger.

        Harley Davidson is the only bike company relevant to the situation in the USA. Do any of the “foreign” bike companies build in the USA?

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        There is talk of retaliatory tariffs and a potential tariff war etc but not the “first shot” being the steel tariff.

        I feel sorry for H-D being stuck in the middle of this, a case of making everybody suffer for the actions of the Chinese who I think are conducting an economic war on the rest of the world, eg underpricing everyone else until steel plants are closed. They take a much longer term view.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Because this publication is far right.

      So, where is the TRUTH??

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        BIGAL

        Far right?

        REally? Man, you are gone baby. Long gone and down the bend.

        I believe they are middle of the road. Some right flavor. Some left. I think that is what i would expect of a professional publication with -what a dozen writers?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Somebody is going to get rich from these tariffs, and it ain’t you and me.

    Follow the money.

  • avatar
    markf

    “Absolutely nothing differentiates a new bike from a used one”

    True that. Except for some silly “anniversary” and “Custom” editions, nothing really changes but the paint. Harley has been building bikes in India for several years.

    I don’t think you can compare bikes and autos, market wise. The big four of Japan are doing ok, Triumph and Ducati are cleaning up. But Harley, most motorcyclists my age (who don’t own a harley) look at them as bikes for Grey Beards and Women.

    Harley decided decades ago that would never innovate or create anything but a “VEE TWIN” cause that is what loyalist demanded. Today is the result of building a product for only loyalist and ignoring other segments and markets…..

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      You have to be a Harley fan to know any differences from year to year and that is the problem. To the rest of us who are not rabid fans, they are just overpriced cruiser clones dating back to the 1950’s.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        You know, picture this. Say you could go to a dealer and buy a brand new LS6 Chevelle. Pretty awesome right? Yep, except that daily driving that would be a chore. Isn’t that kind of what Harley is supposed to be? Intentionally old school and proud of it?

        • 0 avatar
          stevelovescars

          Your analogy isn’t entirely right. New Harley’s are only “retro” in styling but they are modern under the skin and easy to ride… more like a 2002 Thunderbird… looked sort of like the car from the 1950s but was pretty bland to drive.

          HD quality, particularly their bodywork, paint, and chrome has been excellent for decades. They are also reliable and fairly low maintenance bikes (hydraulic lifters, belt drive, etc).

          Of course, this also means that the market is full of used examples, many with low miles, so Harley was also competing with their own used bikes for sales. If one wants a Harley, Craigslist is full of bikes that look nearly identical to new ones (to those not steeped in the minutiae of Harley model history) at a fraction of the price.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Markf, they should take a few notes from Jeep (Wrangler) on how to remain old to the loyalists and still make it modern and still clean up in sales.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Remember the good old days, when Presidents wouldn’t stoop to unhinged rants about private businesses?

    • 0 avatar
      Ce he sin

      Remember the good old days, when Presidents weren’t unhinged?

      • 0 avatar
        Bill Wade

        When was that?

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        NOT TIRED OF WINNING yet. Winning every day ! You can tell by the reactions of the socialist left and precious Snowflakes, and the ravings of Maxine Waters. This is FUN !

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          Yes, snowflakes are delicate little things, but look what happens when a lot of them stick together.

          WINTER IS COMING.

          • 0 avatar
            "scarey"

            Winning some more ! Workers no longer have to pay unions if they are not members. And Our Great President will be appointing another Supreme Court justice. WINNING ! (You democrats regret rigging your nomination process yet ? ) I hope that MadMaxine is your next nominee. Run, Maxine, Run !

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I never, ever, ever in my life thought that there would be a time when I looked back at George W. Bush with fondness and wished he were still President. At the time, I thought he was not the sharpest tool in the shed (sort of the ultimate fratboy legacy dude), but I also believe he was basically honest and truly believed in what he said he believed, even though I rarely agreed with him. But for Trump, unhinged is pretty much the perfect description.

        But, I believe in our country, and worst case scenario this will pass in six years, more likely in two. Or maybe Melania pushes him down the stairs of AF1 on live TV when he tries to touch her… And gets the Congressional Medal of Honor in the process. One can dream.

        • 0 avatar
          "scarey"

          Dream on, Fhead. You and your kind are fantasizing about violence to our President and his family. Peter Fonda said that his son should be kidnapped and caged with pedophiles. Are you proud of him ? Administration officials are told to leave a restaurant and when they do, the manager follows them to another restaurant and harasses them. Someday, this will lead to retaliation. When violence DOES happen, you will be to blame. And you will not like the results.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “Fhead”

            “Someday, this will lead to retaliation”

            “When violence DOES happen, you will be to blame”

            “And you will not like the results.”

            And you think Maxine Waters is nuts.

          • 0 avatar
            HaveNissanWillTravel

            Dilly dilly!

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “I never, ever, ever in my life thought that there would be a time when I looked back at George W. Bush with fondness and wished he were still President. At the time, I thought he was not the sharpest tool in the shed (sort of the ultimate fratboy legacy dude), but I also believe he was basically honest and truly believed in what he said he believed, even though I rarely agreed with him. But for Trump, unhinged is pretty much the perfect description. ”

          In 15 years you will saying the same thing about Trump. Cause EVERY Republican is a Nazi and is Hitler and it a fascists who will lockup gays and kill people.

          Every Republican since Eisenhower is a “Nazi” I remember in the 80s when Reagan was Nazi and the worst human being ever. Then in the 1990s Bush I was a Nazi, then Bush II was ACTUALLY HITLER! This time it is real! Now, the same folks who called BUSHITLER are pining for him because TRUMP IS ACTUALLY HITLER, NO JOKING THIS TIME!

          I look forward to 2035 when Dems look back on Trump fondly because the current Republican nominee/President IS ACTUALLY HITLER, this time it is for real!

    • 0 avatar
      pdog_phatpat

      Remember the good ol days, when you idiots didnt constantly bring up gawker talking points only a millennial brained moron would love on this site? Hows that coming to terms with losing going? Oh…yeah…

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        @@30milefetch—I hope that MadMaxine is your party’s nominee in 2020.
        You did not respond with your opinion of Pedo Fonda’s comment that the President’s son should be caged with pedophiles. Are you secretly proud of him ? Or openly ?…Run, Maxine, Run !

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      You didn’t BUILD that !”…

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    HD’s fortunes have been tied to Baby Boomers for quite some time, and that demographic is disappearing. The oldest Boomers are 72 and the youngest 54. Cars and motorcycles are apples and oranges. Auto manufacturers can appease Boomers by offering muscle cars alongside their other offerings, non-nostalgic Boomers can drive contemporary models. HD can’t do that, they’re a one-trick pony, they only make bikes. Bikes aren’t a necessity and the HD image may not be appealing to younger people. HD’s problems aren’t a barometer for automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Exactly. HD is simply following the Buick model towards extinction, but there is no message here fpr the car industry.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        It’s not just the Buick model, bikes are just different. Parents resign themselves to the fact their kids will have to drive a car, some parents don’t want their kids on motorcycles, especially moms. People can, with varying success, drive cars into their 80’s, Harleys not so much, I don’t think many ride past 60.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Au contraire .HD’s and every other business that wishes to succeed needs to ADD technological advancement, quality and overall excellence in their product while REDUCING real cost of purchase and operation.

      As an example, think of the televisions of the 1980s versus the HDTVs of today, or smartphone market (one of the largest business sectors on both absolute sales and revenues, globally), or computer chip industry.

      Improvement in Performance + Improvement in Quality + MASSIVE SCALE can actually allow for reduction in real, and sometimes even nominal, price.

  • avatar
    Frédéric-Alexandre Decelles

    LATE news.

    They had announced their intentions a few months ago. HD is just trying to capitalyze on that starting trade war so that they don’t look like the bad guys.

    They wanted to get out of US manufacturer since last year I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      Correct, this deal has been in the works for some time now.

      You can compare harley to the American auto industry in the sense that they are both bankrupt of new ideas. US automakers revived and tried to cash in on baby boomer nostalgia with renaming lame cars are 60s muscle cars. I mean, in 50+ years you couldn’t develop a new car or name you gotta go back and revive some long dead car?

      Harley is the same way, V-Twin, cause. Make the new bikes look like old bikes but really improve anything.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        IMO, Harley has no one to blame but themselves. The H-D motorcycle has been customized in a million ways. They could look at some of these custom jobs for inspiration and make a couple of new models each year, and amaze the marketplace with their innovation. And why only make cruisers ? Why not adventure bikes and cafe racers and replica flat-trackers ? Harley COULD do it. But they are hidebound and unimaginative.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Matt has made this observation in the article. So it’s not “late news”.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      It’s not late news, but your notes are important. Something like this takes a few years of planning. This decision was likely made during the previous presidential administration.

      The current political climate simply helps justify the decision.

      31%? Really? That’s insane.

  • avatar
    markf

    Ah yes, we need the decidedly hinged rants o the previous President on private citizens

    “I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

    Of course that was before he finished his term and started charging for speeches……….

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      “you didn’t make that”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “You didn’t make that alone without a ton of pubic investment.”

        There, fixed it for you.

        Go ahead and quote the guy out of context if you like, but he was right.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Actually, the Kenyan said “You didn’t build that”, not “You didn’t make that”. Same socialist drivel though.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I dunno, Sub…did you build all the roads you drove to work on? Did you personally pay the Navy to make sure all the oil that would eventually power your car got from the Persian Gulf to the refinery? Did Fed-Ex build all the airports, and fund the FAA so that its’ planes could carry the documents your business needed from point A to point B?

          And so on?

          Obama’s point was that it business can’t succeed in a vacuum, and the public funds a lot of what makes it possible for business to exist in the first place. If you want to call that socialism, have at it.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            Yes, we paid for it with our tax money, so don’t give me the gov built it while private industry sat around getting fat and rich.

            Study some history, almost all roads/bridges were built with private funds and run privately until the late 19th century……..

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Didn’t say that, markf. I said that business can’t succeed in a vacuum. And it can’t. That’s what Obama was saying. He was right.

            Chill out.

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            Nice try, but facts, nuance, and reason does not work with today’s right wingers. Slogans, out of context quotes, and talking points do.
            We are dealing with people who think that tax funded public projects equate to communism. By their definitions the Interstate highway system is “socialism”, as if socialism is some sort of pejorative rather than a word with a dictionary definition.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            “Yes, we paid for it with our tax money,…” Ahh, therein lies the rub. Liberals think taxes are *their* money. The government doesn’t build anything. Liberals can’t process this.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “The Kenyan”

          Well, if you want to shake the unfair stereotype of the White Supremacist Trump supporter, that ain’t the way to do it.

          Let’s not open the door to disparaging nicknames for the current holder of the office. Between his public admiration of dictators, his demands for loyalty, his penchant for having his cabinet members lick his boots before the meetings begin, his bigotry, his infidelity, his draft dodging, his contempt for certain POWs who didn’t, I’m sure someone could create quite a list of sobriquets. You want to go first?

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            Actually, I’m not a Trump supporter, my vote was anti-Hillary. Not caring for a foreign born, socialist president who happens to be biracial doesn’t make me a white supremacist either. It’s not like he’s the first pablum puking liberal president that I didn’t like. Clinton, Carter, Johnson, JFK, and that’s about it. Prior to JFK there were moderate democrats.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @sub600

            I think Kennedy is underrated by many, just for 1962 he gets a thumbs up in my book.

            Oh and f*** the Keynan.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Sub, you seem to be having real difficulty with the definitions of “foreign-born” and “socialist”. But I’ve got great news for someone who is anti-Hillary, not-pro-Trump, and fond of cherry-picking quotes out of the internet ether. Hillary didn’t win, and Trump is in office now making a real arse of himself and there’s is a rich treasure trove of his antics before political office. You could have some real fun there, so why not consider branching out?

            28, you’re an interesting character. It’s nice to see you not use “chalky” to describe “the Kenyan” anymore, though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Gotta switch it up now and again.

            Also found this interesting about the Nixon Shock:

            “If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.”

            -Nixon on Aug 15 1971

            But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America

            Assuming this was not complete bullshit on his part, Nixon apparently predicated his decision on the fact Americans would buy American products. Had this continued beyond about 1990, I do wonder what the world would be.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Gotta switch it up now and again.

            Also found this interesting about the Nixon Shock:

            “If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.”

            -Nixon on Aug 15 1971

            But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America

            Assuming this was not complete bullsh!t on his part, Nixon apparently predicated his decision on the fact Americans would buy American products. Had this continued beyond about 1990, I do wonder what the world would be.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            So pointing out that his father was from Kenya makes one “WHITE SUPREMACIST”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            C’mon guys, dissent with class.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            markf,
            Nope, didn’t write that. You’re going to have to think a little harder instead of defaulting to faux outrage.

            If you don’t understand how Sub’s labeling of Obama (not his father) as The Kenyan contributes to that particular stereotype of the Trump supporter, you should familiarize yourself both with the concept of rhetorical analysis and the actions of some of Obama’s more clearly racist opponents during his terms in office.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            MarkF- At the end of the 19th century, intercity roads barely existed. There was no interstate highway system, no state systems, and no standard signage to direct you through the maze of farm roads and cart tracks that existed. Since you enjoy reading history, read the book about t he first cross-country trip by automobile. It was in 1903, and it was not easy; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/679221.Horatio_s_Drive

            In the first half of the 20th Century, public demand drove the Good Roads movement for public investment in roads. The entire age of the automobile was enabled by that.

          • 0 avatar
            "scarey"

            Kenyan communist muslum, actually.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …pablum puking liberal president…Jeeze if your going to steal quotes from a dead loudmouthed right winger, at least give him the credit. No wonder a narcissistic, brain -dead, petulant child was able to become President and turn the “family Values” party into a family crushing crusader. I would kill for George Bush right now.

          • 0 avatar
            stevelovescars

            Compared to the GOP of today, Reagan was a moderate Democrat.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        Did you make all of the infrastructure necessary for success in any business? Of course not. All of that was paid for by taxes. A country that does not pay taxes is not a country for long. Infrastructure in the US is failing. Roads are crap. Bridges are in danger of collapsing. To fix the roads and bridges would cost a trillion dollars. Congress will not approve a dollar for infrastructure repair. Looking at tall of the things that need repair, the US is sliding into third world territory.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      “We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.”

      Gosh, what an unhinged rant that was. You can practically smell the communism.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Astigmatism ,
        Have you considered the possibility that left unfettered, the “free market” enables crony capitalists and monopolies to distribute 99% of a nation’s wealth into 1% of the population?

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          What’s that saying about failure to learn from history…

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Ttacgreg:
          You need to learn what “the left” is in American politics. We’re a center-right party in global terms.

          We are not communists. We just believe in a social safety net. Most of us have good jobs, and a vocal minority of us work in (and belive) in the tech industry, which is a deeply capitalist undertaking.

          Personally, I have degrees in Computer Science and Business. I’ve worked in small businesses and large business, and also in public service (university staff).

          If you think we’re communists, your are getting information from low-quality sources. Even Bernie Sanders and his True
          Elievers are pretty far right of an actual community is — they are what Europeans call “Social Democrats”.

          When you conflate Democrats, Social Democrats, and actual Communists, you end up fighting against a strawman and looking like a fool. If Democrats believed what Fox News says we do, we’d be as dumb as they think we are. But, like most right-wing infotainers Fox commentators just makes stuff up as they go along. Being right-wing is fine, just so long as you bring intellect rigor to your arguments. You must understand your opponent and, in order to debate us effectively. In other words, you must learn the truth about us.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “We are not communists. We just believe in a social safety net. Most of us have good jobs, and a vocal minority of us work in (and belive) in the tech industry, which is a deeply capitalist undertaking.”

            you’re wasting your time.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        Bernie Sanders made over a million dollars last year. Just like the year before. Not bad for a self-glossed SOCIALIST. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=57&v=eFRHX6glTSM

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Two thoughts:

    1) I don’t know much about motorcycles, but I do know this particular brand is based on ancient tech, and its’ bikes cost a small fortune. How could these guys NOT be making money?

    2) Trade wars aren’t “easy.”

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I don’t know much about motorcycles,”

      proven by the next part of your sentence

      “but I do know this particular brand is based on ancient tech”

      if you start out by saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, why keep talking?

      there’s nothing “ancient” in these things. The powertrain in most of them was all-new, released in 2017. they’re fully electronically managed with EFI (since the ’90s) and all modules are CAN (HDLan, IIRC based on GMLan thanks to Delphi being their main electronics supplier.) their core models were completely redesigned in 2009 (Touring) and 2017 (Softail.) Yes, they *look* similar to how Harleys have always looked, but in terms of engineering nothing on them is really older than 2009.

      so what makes them “ancient” tech? Pushrods? be kind of funny from a crowd still singing the praises of the 3800. Air cooling? you know how much engineering time and resources has to be spent to make an air-cooled engine pass emissions certification? Vibration? all but gone in the 2017+ big twin.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    “Asking to raise the debt ceiling is un-American” – Sen. B. Hussein Obama

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    So if the average new car costs $30k today, and they’re talking about a 25% tariff on imported cars, then you’re looking at either:

    a) new cars with an average transaction cost over $37.5k, or

    b) people buying a lot more $24k base model cars and still paying $30k for it, or

    c) people stop buying new cars altogether until this all blows over.

    I’m not seeing anything positive in any of those scenarios.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Or the EU concedes to dropping its 10 percent tariffs on imported autos to match the USAs current import tariff of 2.5 percent? Angela Merkel went on record as stating back in middle of May that they’d be willing to reduce import tariffs. Somehow that eroded though into the flame war we have now.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    push left, go left – push right, go right – push up by moving overseas and increasing prices and you get pushed down!!!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I assume Europe is a small but significant market for HD, and pretty minuscule for American auto manufacturers. Besides the Mustang and Tesla, are there any American-made cars exported in any quantity to Europe?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Yes some slip through the cracks, but why should the US simply accept foreign market’s virtual ban on US products, while accepting their goods with basically open borders?

      Since US policy can’t control foreign government’s tariffs and other barriers, what would you suggest?

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        I would suggest diplomacy and negotiation, and making friends with our allies rather than economically destructive tariffs applied in spastic chaotic and ego driven childishly motivated course of action. Oh, and pissing off all of our post war allies, our best friends and potential allies in the face of Russia and China ascendant is likely an ill considered thing to do.
        I rarely agreed with Charles Krathammer , but this quote is pure gold, and do note that he had some behavioral science training.

        Trump’s hypersensitivity and unedited, untempered Pavlovian responses are, shall we say, unusual in both ferocity and predictability.
        This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him. C Krauthammer

      • 0 avatar
        Ce he sin

        Which foreign markets place a “virtual ban on US products” I wonder? China? There are rather more US made cars sold there than there are Chinese made ones sold in the US…The EU? Plenty of US made BMW X models and their Merc equivalents.

        • 0 avatar
          "scarey"

          Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            Ce he sin

            Ha ha! Japan doesn’t even impose tariffs!
            Mercedes sell quite a lot of cars in Japan. They just figured out that you have to provide cars that the market wants and the dealer experience that buyers are used to.

        • 0 avatar
          "scarey"

          Japan—*8% consumption tax on imported cars
          Importing a vehicle from anywhere in the world usually involves hiring an import agent to organise the shipping process. It takes about 40 days to ship a car from EU countries and 20 days from the USA. Cars are shipped there ONE AT A TIME.
          Vehicles must conform to Japanese specifications and regulations. EACH VEHICLE must pass preliminary inspections and emissions tests before a vehicle can be driven in Japan.
          NO TARIFFS ARE NECESSARY…

          • 0 avatar
            Ce he sin

            Oh, do keep up. Mercedes sell 60,000 odd cars a year in Japan. They’re not shipped there individually.
            If they can do it, others can.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Europe is HD’s second largest market, accounting for almost $800 million in revenue. Europe and Canada are the only HD markets that are growing; the US market is shrinking. So in many ways, Europe is vital to HD’s profitability.

      Regarding your second question, the biggest exporter of cars made in the US is BMW – the X5 is built in the US and exported worldwide. I believe Mercedes is the #2 exporter of US made vehicles with their SUV’s.

      Kind of ironic that the biggest exporter of US made vehicles is a European company isn’t it?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Not really that ironic. The American(ish) car companies mostly build vehicles for Americans. And I include most of the Asian makes in that, as there is no real market for Camrys and Altimas and Accords outside the US. The rest of the world has little use for giant pickup trucks and cheap sedans and CUVs sold by the pound. The Europeans all sell either luxury or niche products in the US, and they even are building their biggest sellers here (just like the Japanese and Koreans). The luxury CUV/SUV craze is just global enough for it to make sense for BMW and MB to setup shop in the US. The fact that the American South is a rather cheaper place to build them than the old countries is a nice cherry on top.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        I expect that X5 production will move to Mexico next year.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Not one bit “ironic”. The Old World has dialed in so much stupid protectionism that automakers have to custom tailor cars for the Euro market, and or build them in Europe, giving the imports so much of a disadvantage, only the stronger imports can punch through.

        The Mustang and Tesla are excellent examples.

        Yet many Euro (and Japanese/Korean) cars have no problem adapting to the diverse and easy US market. Tiny engine? Bring it. Gas guzzler import? How fast can you get it here?

        What’s ironic is that fancy Euro protectionism has created the worst cars this side of Russia that definitely won’t be coming to the US soon. US Lemon Laws would the biggest form of (consumer) protectionism they would face.

        • 0 avatar
          Jagboi

          Huh? What are you going on about? If Europe has so much protectionism why is BMW building cars in the USA for export to Europe making it the largest exporter from the USA?

          If Europe was so hard to get cars into, BMW would build them in Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Jagboi,
            The EU vehicle market is more liberal than the US market.

            The EU has less stringent tech barriers the US employs.

            Data suggests overall both the US and EU have similar levels of tariffs.

            The US should enter into a FTA with the EU to resolve some of the percieved trading issues.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            To imports, tariffs are the least harming of insane Euro protectionism. BMW found it cheaper to assemble in the poorest part of the US, for the richest parts of the US. Excellent business plan.

            So BMW won’t blink at the EU tariff, entering a locked in market, incidentally building cars more profitable than obscenely, cash printing Ford/GM/Ram fullsized pickups, per unit, as opposed to the total yearly run (where Big 3 pickups dominate) world’s most profitable.

            :

        • 0 avatar
          Ce he sin

          I’m intrigued by this talk of “Euro protectionism”. I live in an EU country and can buy cars made in the US, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Japan and India, none of which were in the EU last time I heard. Why isn’t the “protectionism” preventing this?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The EU has trade agreements with select countries, similar to NAFTA including 2 of 3 NAFTA countries, but they can’t just be “any” vehicles.

            Europe “cherry picks” within those countries too.

            Some vehicles made in Mexico and Canada aren’t EU tariff exempt, despite trade agreements. Mexican Jettas, no problem. Mexican Silverados or Rams? Now that’s a problem. Huge problem. Same with Canadian made Hondas.

            See a pattern here?

            Or they’re EU domestic brands outsourcing cheaper labor in poor countries (or poor areas in the US) that sometimes also buy their cars. VW cars sell great in Mexico. Win/Win.

            But in case you haven’t noticed, European mainstream cars are designed specifically for the EU market and couldn’t be mainstream anywhere else, except for very few examples.

            That’s EU “protectionism” at work, cuts both ways. Tiny diesels, especially manual station wagons aren’t great sellers around the world. But they’re certainly not banned from the US.

            EU car makers are welcome to sell them in the US, or try to sell them, just the same as import gas guzzlers. The US doesn’t discriminate.

            So if you can name a large meaningful market more protected than the EU (even slightly), with tariff and non-tariff barriers, I’m right here..

          • 0 avatar
            Ce he sin

            China and India.

            Some would include Japan, but not me. No import tariffs and Mercedes manage to sell quite a lot of cars there. Some would describe their predilection for driving on the left as a barrier, but also not me.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Thank you! So it’s China, India and Europe? Some would also say, high fuel prices are huge form of protectionism. Then aside from high tariffs, import automakers are forced to build cars specifically tailored for the EU market, with low demand elsewhere.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Harley’s problems have zero to do with EU tariffs announced a few days ago.

    The brand is circling the drain because it no longer has the silly image it cultivated over decades as being a brand for outlaws. It’s a brand for people pretending to be something they’re not.

    Almost every Harley rider I know outgrew the brand and now laughs at the people still buying into it dressed up in clown suits with “HD” all over them.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      “Let’s all be rebels together!”

      It’s the mantra of retired baby boomer dentists everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      zipper69

      I have to agree. Willy G. pulled the company back from the brink and tried to urge them into the 21st century. Sadly, his Board had decided that their client base would live forever and go on replenishing itself eternally, therefore no need to update the designs from the 1920’s.
      For some time it worked that way but the influx of Japanese, German and Italian finely engineered cycles bit a great hole in the H-D boat and they’ve sinking ever since.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        ” Willy G. pulled the company back from the brink and tried to urge them into the 21st century. Sadly, his Board had decided that their client base would live forever and go on replenishing itself eternally, therefore no need to update the designs from the 1920’s.
        For some time it worked that way but the influx of Japanese, German and Italian finely engineered cycles bit a great hole in the H-D boat and they’ve sinking ever since.”

        ^This.

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        Interesting that worldwide HD sold 242,000 bikes last year, while Honda sold 17 million. Not even a close run thing. Even within the US, Honda sold 3 times more bikes than HD sold.

        • 0 avatar
          road_pizza

          Of that 17 million how many were barely-moped-sized scooters sold in 2nd world countries??? My bet is the VAST majority, those countries aren’t buying cruisers or Gold Wings.

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          True, Jag, but I’m guessing that the average HD transaction price is a lot higher than the average Honda m/c transaction price. Probably not even close. Just by virtue of HD’s pricing, they are going to sell a lot fewer cycles than Honda. Then add the fact that HD purposely limits their product range to a relatively narrow niche of the market, again limiting volume. HD is obviously going to try to sell more bikes, because they need a certain minimum volume to stay alive…but I highly doubt they are shooting for 17 million bikes a year. Neither is Triumph or BMW (cycles), for that matter. Those brands are much more narrowly focused than Honda.

          Outside the US, and especially in Asia, an awful lot of Honda cycles sold are, as another has posted, probably scooters and mopeds of small displacement, as well as motorcycles that by US and European standards are pretty small. A market segment HD doesn’t even play in.

  • avatar
    ajla

    B&B: Cadillac is failing because it didn’t stay true to its branding and heritage. No one wants a “me-too” car.

    Also B&B: Harley is failing because it stuck too firmly to its branding and heritage. They should have been more like Ducati and the Japanese makers.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      Harley is failing because they sell overpriced and under engineered bikes. The bikes have not changed in any significant manner in 50+ years.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      What sunk Cadillac – the cars cost too much and aren’t quite good enough. But they also have the same problem as HD – their “traditional buyers” are literally dying off. So making “traditional” Cadillacs is a non-starter too. Everyone who wants a floaty steer-it-with-one-finger barge is here in the B&B, and they would only buy one used anyway.

  • avatar
    dartman

    HD sells almost 40,000 units a year (about 110 every single day) in the EU; because of Emperor Cheetoh’s misguided trade policy the retaliatory tariff applied on imported HD’s will add aprox. $2,200 to every unit; or about $88 million, an amount that HD cannot afford to swallow to remain competitive. The only real solution is to move production/manufacturing overseas to avoid the tariff. Actions have consequences….oh and by the way the price of everything you buy with steel and/or aluminum will be increasing in price also. MAGA!

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      I know a bunch of people in Europe that own a Harley and all bought them used in USA and shipped them. Most of the allure of an European owning a Harley is because it is made in USA.
      Once they start making them in Czech Republic or wherever, and sold for the same price, they are dead in the water. Like others said, Harley is pretty much dead in the water regardless of tarrifs and for various reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …Most of the allure of an European owning a Harley is because it is made in USA….

        This is true. A foreign-made Harley is like buying Mexican-made Levis. Which is why I don’t buy Levis anymore… some iconic American products need to be made here; they lose something when they get made elsewhere…

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      But when you are talking about a fairly expensive already lifestyle accessory, will it really matter? Seems like people who want one will just pay it. Not like there is really an alternative – the Japanese Harley copies aren’t the real thing to these people or they wouldn’t be buying a junky Harley in the first place. You can buy something that looks and rides just like a Harley but doesn’t leak oil all over your garage floor.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        The alternative is, people will come here and buy one slightly used Made In USA..and save a bundle. The people buying these in Europe are very immage conscious..well at least Eastern Europe They would put up with it even if it leaks oil as long as it is made in USA and their neighbors know that it is made in USA. The same kind of people would rather own a Cadillac vs a Mercedes S550. It has nothing to do with performance, or quality or reliability but uniqueness/exclusivity. A Caddy is a lot rarer and more unique than a S series or a BMW 7 series.
        Same for HD vs the Jaoanese in those parts of the world.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Carrera,
          The EU can impose the same technical barriers the US has on vehicle imports and kill the EUs grey market, like the US has no real grey market.

          There is more at stake here than tariffs.

          • 0 avatar
            Carrera

            Big Al…yes they can, as they did before in late 90s, early 2000s with cars. They did it by engine size at that time. Anything bigger than 2.0 engine you had to pay an arm and a leg to register.
            They can do the same with motorcycles. Any motorcycle bigger than 1200cc is bad for the environment.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Carrera,
            Then why doesn’t the US manufacture vehicles to suit their markets? Then you will have exports.

            The world will not bow down to a minority market.

      • 0 avatar
        road_pizza

        Ignorance is bliss and you’re in heaven. Harley’s haven’t had oil leaking issues for DECADES. Unlike, say, Subarus (which people like you idolize) which eat head gaskets for breakfast and puke oil like the Exxon Valdez from the showroom floor.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “Ignorance is bliss and you’re in heaven. Harley’s haven’t had oil leaking issues for DECADES.”

          By DECADES you mean months?

          http://www.latimes.com/la-fi-hy-harley-davidson-recall-20170605-htmlstory.html

  • avatar
    markf

    “Emperor Cheetoh” Wow, did you think of that all by yourself? It is so clever, witty and original!

  • avatar
    Jeffrey Sproul

    Maybe this is meant to happen. Refuse to innovate and then eventually die as a result. Blaming tariffs but in the long run it doesn’t really matter. Harley is looking for an excuse since they had planned all along to offshore production. Just because a company has existed for over a hundred years doesn’t mean that they will continue to exist.

  • avatar
    Jeffrey Sproul

    My comment is awaiting moderation which means that if it disagrees with the moderators opinions or agenda then they will delete it. This has happened before and I did not use profanity or slurs. Should have not bothered to post a comment or read any of the articles since censorship is the name of the game.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Neither Corey or I moderate based on opinion, agenda, or political affiliation. I have never moderated a comment because of political content or difference of opinion.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    The USA imports a lot more than the USA exports. Net effect of the tariffs will be positive for USA workers, which is a Populist cause.
    Obviously exporters in the USA will be negatively affected. Not a good thing, but similar to getting chemotherapy, the benefits outweigh the bad. I am wondering if China and EU will increase tariffs on Hollywood movies. Things would get even more interesting…
    //Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute expressed his concern to Variety. “Film quotas are exactly the kind of target the Chinese would threaten in response to these tariffs,” he revealed.// http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/02/c_137081398.htm

  • avatar
    Ratsnake

    There is already a variant of this problem for automakers. BMW and Daimler-Benz concentrate “SAV” and CUV production in USA, with a lot of the production made for export to China. If/when retaliatory tariffs kick in around the world, automakers will have a choice between idling US capacity due to likely lower demand/profits, or attempting to re-tool around the world to make their full line locally in major markets instead of having plants specialized by model. (I suspect if that were the efficient way to produce automobiles, someone would be doing it already.)

    And the supply chain problems are even worse. Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK is in a state of uncertainty because nobody knows how a version of Brexit without customs union is compatible with “just in time” production. And there, you have just administrative friction, not competing government attempts to manipulate economic activity.

    A lot of enthusiasts hated safety, efficiency, and environmental regulations as they applied to cars–and any automaker whose product was worse, or more expensive, during the malaise era could point to its new government-imposed obligations. If you have a trade war scenario, you effectively have a lot of government penalties and rules relating to where and how cars are made. Unlike the malaise-era regulations, these penalties won’t do anything to incentivize innovation (think of lambda sond fuel injection). Rather, they’ll just impose reactive behavior on automakers in the location of production and sourcing of materials/parts. It seems very hard to predict that this will result in more employment in the auto industry, or even where jobs in the auto industry would be added or subtracted.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Harley’s problem is this: 100,000s of thousands of 20$ t-shirts and only 10,000s motorcycles sold. Or, no “Hog” but a neck tattoo and shield and bar t-shirt Don’t worry until the Chinese start dumping their U.S. T-bills. Then buy survival gear.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Sucks to be HD but I’ll always get a kick out of reading “if you can read this the bitch fell off” on a Harley rider’s back.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      HD is stuck in the past, Indian has eating away at there market place, by building a superior product both in quality and performance.

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        Most Harley riders these days use them as an excuse to get away from their wives.

        Did I mention my brother-in-law showed up a couple of days ago in his “hog” just long enough for his ass to stop vibrating and to get out of his personal sauna also know as a rain suit?

      • 0 avatar
        road_pizza

        It’s “their”, not “there”. You argument would carry more weight if you used proper English.

  • avatar
    John

    By weeks end Aprillia, BMW, Ducati, KTM and Moto Guzzi will all have a 31% Tariffs.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Harley Davidson is still a profitable business. The comments discussing the attributes of HD products are forgetting HD sells perception, similar to many other brands.

    This can be highly profitable.

    HD a year ago or so decided to set up a SE Asian manufacturing centre in Thailand to service the region. This has little to do with HD’s consideration setting up a EU manufacturing hub to counter the regressive stance penalising American bussiness by Trump and his goons.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    As I said on another website, I think this is a knee jerk reaction from Trump.

    But, maybe if the EU drops it’s 10 percent tariffs on imports this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place. They can match our 2.5 percent EU import tariffs on cars.

    For all imports and exports, the EU tariffs are 1.5 times higher than ours.(5.2 percent vs 3.5 percent).

    We also import 1.5 times more from the EU than we export.

    So why should we get bent over? We also really don’t know if HD wanted to move production to Europe anyways.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Daniel,
      You still have US vehicle standards which are not the same as the rest of the world.

      And you still have the 25% chicken tax.

      Will the US accept UNECE vehicles?

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        As far as vehicle standards, doesn’t a MB made in Germany getting shipped to the US still need to meet U.S. Standards?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – Yeah but the Chicken tax does virtually zero to protect Toyota, Nissan and Honda pickup sales, or any pickup sales.

        No doubt the Japanese Big 3 benefit the most from the Chicken tax, although marginally, but the tax remains to counter the Euro Chicken tax on pickup imports, which you rarely mention. It’s leverage to get the Euro Chicken tax removed.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – There’s no “rest of the world” regulations. But would the US accepting UNECE standards equalize tariffs for all member markets?

        No? Then what’s the point? There’s not much difference between US and UNECE regs any way. Many cheap cars easily go both ways. VW, Fiat, etc.

        But what would be the benefit to the US when Europe will no doubt continue with their highly protectionist ways, and I’m not even talking about their ridiculous tariffs.

        Europe sure as hell isn’t willing to equalize fuel taxes nor end severely taxing bigger engines.

        Your dumb ideas would benefit European (and Japanese) automakers no doubt, although barely, but what would be the upside for the US and US automakers including Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai etc?

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    I am the baby boomer who could easily drop $25k on a Harley. And about 20 years ago, I was a fan of HD but kids prevented me from being reckless. Now, I prefer to spend my disposable income on travel. HD is not even on my radar screen. Most of my friends who bought Harleys ride them at most five times a year. The thrill is gone.

    Young people don’t want any motorcycle, and especially not an old person’s motorcycle.

    HD will be bankrupt (again) within ten years.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    “… one can dream with fondness…”

    Are you kidding me?

    Trump won fair and square.

    Life is not black and white, unfortunately. A ‘trade war’ will have winners and losers. Overall, I agree with the mainstream economists that it will probably depress the US economy.

    Oh well.

    It will depress the economies of China and Germany (which controls the EU) far more.

    Why should American cars sold in Europe carry a 10% tax while their cars carry only 2.5%

    Why should the US taxpayer fund NATO, which ultimately raises US taxes and deficits, and makes US products more expensive, while the Europeans use that money education and healthcare, which makes their products cheaper?

    Why should Americans pay for an oversize military to ‘contain’ China, when at the same time they are enriching China by buying all these Chinese products, made by people who are not free, while the Chinese keep American-made products out, or force US companies to give Chinese control.

    Yes, Trump is rude, brash, and abrasive. That is regrettable. On the other hand, he is trying to look out for middle America, unlike Clinton/Bush.

    I say tariff away! How do you think America overtook Great Britain in the 19th century, or the Japanese and Koreans emerged from the rubble in the 20th?

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      The U.S. now funds 22% of NATO. Europe should either pony up or start brushing up on their conversational Russian.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Sub 600,
        What percentage of NATO does the US represent? 25%? 30? 21?

        Do some research and you will find Australia and other countries lie within the NATO umbrella. We are not appart of NATO but use all the systems within NATO.

        I do realise the US punches above its weight, but the US is (was) the only NATO country that required global reach.

        Another aspect is after WW2 many nations were sick of war after 2 large, consecutive wars.

        You need to see why and how we are where we are now. Its not all about how great the US is percieved or how much other nations are out to screw the US.

        I really do think you are very rustic and provincial with your views.

        The US has cleaned up financially since WW2 60 years ago. Others have caught up or even surpassed the US in some ways.

        Its up to you to MAGA not others giving you a handicap. Get off your butt, work and compete.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      This line…”Why should Americans pay for an oversize military to ‘contain’ China, when at the same time they are enriching China by buying all these Chinese products, made by people who are not free, while the Chinese keep American-made products out, or force US companies to give Chinese control?” I sat in the belly of a C-17 coming out of Afghanistan up to Ramstein and watched the (very) heroic medical staff work on an injured soldier the entire flight. Seeing that affected me in more ways than I can articulate, and it filtered down to my choices in where I spend my money. I do my darndest to make sure my money goes to employ my friends, neighbors and family. I am loathe to see our nation’s wealth (and independence) squandered for the cause of “more choice and cheap stuff.” Maybe it’s a jacked-up perception, but there it is. Why ask a servicemember to go off and get injured (or die) for our country when the average consumer couldn’t care less about fortifying another country’s bank accounts? It kind of saddens me to think they are volunteering to defend a nation that doesn’t take care of itself.

      As for H-D specifically, I think they were already long on the path of becoming more and more irrelevant. Sure, the tech might have been there, but at the end of the day, the market wasn’t there to support the projected lifestyle they built their reputation on. I’m not sure the tariffs are going to be the reason they continue to falter. I just don’t know that many people that want a H-D anymore.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Interesting that the quote from Nixon was at about the same time that he pulled the USA out of the Bretton-Woods agreement, ended the “gold standard”, and threw the world into economic chaos that in some ways it has never recovered from. Much of this was blamed on the “Energy Crisis” which was real enough, but nowhere near as much trouble.
    Also anyone remember the “Harley Tax”? This was a tariff imposed on imported, to the USA, motorcycles over 700cc. This was in the mid 1980s. I think it was reduced or rescinded later when the Harley fad took off.
    It’s hard to predict where this will go.
    And I agree with those that have mentioned the danger of inattentive car drivers to motorcyclists. My last bike is now for sale in large part because of this. Riding on back roads where I live is no longer fun as the pavement has deteriorated so much in the last 15 years. Before one of my neighbors moved here, his wife was killed while they were riding their Harley. Tee boned by a car driver pulling out of a church parking lot.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ahhh yes, Justice Kennedy is hanging up his robe, that’ll be one less liberal. Darth Bader’s hanging on by a thread, my fingers are crossed, A whacko socialist beat an incumbent lib in NY yesterday, dems are going waaay left, 2020 will be like shooting fish in a barrel for conservatives. There may be hope for what’s left of America,

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Wow, talk about being off course. Think you’re on the wrong site. Alex Jones doesn’t write articles for TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      ThankQ. Trust the Plan !

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Run, Maxine, Run !

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        Imagine the auto theft with open borders, nobody will have to make cars in Mexico, half the cars will end up there anyway, Even Maxine isn’t left enough anymore. The progressives want to eliminate ICE and open the borders. The crackpot socialist who won a congressional primary in NY yesterday may be a harbinger. Justice Kennedy was labeled “moderate” but he was very liberal on social issues which are rotting America from the inside out. The coming confirmation fight will be fun.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Winning and the race to the bottom for the flies attaching themselves to this horse manure.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Harley Davidson has a big problem. Really big, say, 10 or 20 years down the road.

    Obviously, they have a rapidly aging owner base. That base is, in large part, either dying off now or is going to be dying off in the relatively near future. There are a lot of 50-70 year old guys with multiple Harleys in the garage. Those bikes will increasingly be sold off in the not too distant future, and not replaced with new Harleys, if they are replaced with anything.

    Can they evolve relatively quickly into a brand that a younger demographic is interested in and can afford?

    There is a major problem with evolving to meet the desires of the young. The older, established fan base is rabid, has money, and they are still around in significant enough numbers that if HD alienates them, they could defect before enough new fans are in the fold. HD effectively at this point shoots itself in the foot, accelerating their own demise.

    If HD doesn’t change at a fairly rapid pace, the old guard is happy, but 10-15 years from now when a lot of them aren’t riding anymore, HD has failed to generate a new fan base, and withers on the vine. At that point, there isn’t enough time left to pivot.

    Honestly, I don’t know if HD can evolve, period, without losing their whole “hook”. Old school, don’t change very much, tied to the old style, is kind of who they are. Attempts to branch out, i.e. Buell, haven’t been a big financial success.

    History may eventually prove that HD was a viable idea for a certain time, but shrinks into oblivion eventually (or becomes an even smaller and ultimately insignificant boutique brand) purely because there is no way to transition what HD has built their entire business on into anything else in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      Harley could have evolved but they chose not too. Look at BMW, for decades they made stodgy, opposed twins “old man” motorcycles. Then the made the 1200GS and then (to much shock) the S1000 and inline 4 sport bike that took the sport bike and World Super bike racing world by storm. In a not very long period of time they have totally overhauled their image. Sure, the majority of their bikes are opposed twins BUT their image is aspirational and not longer viewed as “living in the past”

      Harley decided they were not interested in changing, updating or modernizing anything….

  • avatar
    HDTruth

    “he acknowledged that the company issued plans to move Kansas City production to Thailand prior to the global trade war. ”

    That isn’t what Harley did at all.

    In 2015 they announced plans to close the Kansas City plant because the Dyna and VRod were being discontinued, and US production of the Street would be moving to Pennsylvania.

    In March 2017 (after TPP was killed) they announced plans to open a CKD plant in Thailand for non-Street models, i.e. models that KC wouldn’t be building anyway, due to preferable ASEAN tariff agreements.

    In January 2018 they reiterated both of those things were still happening.

    In April 2018 they reiterated both of those things were still happening, and explicitly stated the Thai plant was happening because TPP was killed.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I read a lot on here about other countries do not buy American vehicles. There is a reason for this that has nothing to do with tariffs or taxes. Europe and Japan both have vehicles made for their conditions. American cars are not made for tight city streets and tight mountainous roads. American cars are made for interstate travel with no turns for miles and cities that are wide open and made for cars. Also whether it is just perception or fact American cars have the reputation of poor quality. England and Japan both require right hand drive cars that American companies will not make. When you add it all up, there is no reason for anyone from Europe or Japan to prefer any American car to what they have at home. Until the American car companies begin to be serious about selling cars overseas, they will not sell cars overseas. It is a long process to reverse the ideas that foreigners have about American cars and it will not be easy to do. General Motors has simply quit trying to sell cars in Europe. Ford recently dropped trying to sell cars in Japan. FCA is the only company selling any number of cars around the world and that is because of the Fiat nameplate.

    The whole problem of America having a deficit to other countries occurs because of the same ideas. America does not try to sell anything to other countries that is adapted to their needs and wants. People think that if it is good enough for Americans, it is good enough for anyone. This is not so. Would you buy something that is only part of what you want, against something that is tailored to your tastes and wants? Foreign companies look long and hard at what they are selling in the US and try to make it more desirable for the consumer. American companies do not seem to look at what the foreign customer wants at all. They simply put out what they already have out there and try to sell it. Competition is getting stronger all over the world and half assed measures will not do any more. If America is going to thrive, it must do more to compete and not just say here it is, come and get it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Put this in a byline entitled something to the effect of: “Why the world won’t “buy American””.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Generally I think you are correct. However, regarding American companies making cars for conditions, Ford of Europe has done that for quite a while. They make RHD cars for the UK. However, the cars Ford sells in Europe are designed in Europe for their market.

      Ford have tried selling US designed cars in Europe, and they did sell RHD Explorers in the UK for example from 1997 to 2001. They didn’t sell well because they were gas guzzlers and the price was close to a Jaguar XJ6 – a brand that held a lot more prestige in the UK market than a Ford. If you wanted an SUV you could get a Land Rover for less and it could be had with a diesel – a vital thing for fuel economy.

      However, Ford of Europe is an exception, the broad thrust of your argument is correct.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      charliej,
      I’ve been looking at the US vehicle industry along the lines you have and came up with ways in which the industry can improve exports;
      1. Use the same vehicle standards is the most obvious.
      2. Remove the chicken tax.
      3. Promote smaller more efficient vehicles.
      4. Improve quality in design and material.

      The US is also confronted with quite a large disparity gap. What occurs is half the population can only afford to maintain small vehicles, no different than your average EU or Asian vehicle.

      So while full size vehicles are protected to the point of being gravy trains for the manufacturers small vehicle production will be overlooked.

      The US needs to build what others want. The rest of the world do not have the same issues with vehicle exports as the US and this supports my view the US industry needs a restructure with the controls, protection and regulations influencing the US market.

      Other than a few countries any large engined/sized vehicle needs to be prestigious and US fullsize pickups and pickup station wagons are not in the same league as global large vehicles that are of superior quality.

  • avatar
    Nick

    If Harley Davidson is in trouble, I have to wonder about the future of Indian Motorcycle. They were reborn just as the big bike fad was taking off among lawyers and investment bankers, but seemed to spend time opening restaurants (not kidding) and incredibly expensive dealerships and they don’t have nearly the brand equity HD does. I suspect their name will be in the obits before long.


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