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Harley-Davidson May Start Building Bikes In Europe Due to Tariffs

Livewire 2018
Image from Harley-Davidson

A European-Made Harley?

Matt Levatich, the CEO of Harley-Davidson, went on CNBC’s Squawk Alley and said that his company may need to start building bikes in Europe if it wants to continue selling them there. According to Motorcycle News, the tariffs hitting Harley imposed by the Trump administration are at 31 percent. In two years, the tariffs will rise to 56 percent if nothing changes. 

Levatich said that his company has been eating costs due to those tariffs, but that it can’t do that forever. “About $100 million (£78 million) a year is what we are covering in order to protect our business in Europe,” Levatich said on CNBC. The reason the company had decided to eat those costs currently is because of its position with the new LiveWire electric motorcycle. Harley wants to be in the right places when that bike hits dealers so it can sell as many as possible. 

European motorcycles could come from the new Thailand manufacturing facility, but there’s also the chance that the company could open a European manufacturing facility to get around the tariffs. It will look into the various options available to it over the next several months.

As much as I hate to see Harley moving jobs out of the U.S., I get it. The company is stuck between a rock and a hard place here, and it has to do something. Hopefully, it won’t cause too much backlash here in the States if it chooses to open up a new manufacturing facility abroad.