Local HOG members weigh in on tensions between Harley-Davidson and President Trump
FARGO—News reports Monday, June 25, of Harley-Davidson's plans to shift some production of its motorcycles overseas drew the ire of President Trump early Tuesday morning.
In response to the company's announcement, Trump tweeted, "A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. 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!"
In a regulatory filing Monday, Harley-Davidson explained the move is in response to retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union.
Each motorcycle will cost an average of $2,200 extra per motorcycle after the tariff was raised last week on imported U.S. bikes from 6 percent to 31 percent, according to the filing.
It's unclear how Harley-Davidson's plans will be received by motorcycle owners. Local members of the Harley Owners Group who spoke to The Forum Tuesday said they thought the move would definitely hurt the company's "made in America" brand, but that it wouldn't necessarily stop them from owning or buying another Harley-Davidson bike.
Craig Johnson, 58, of West Fargo, is a Harley owner and lifetime member of the national HOG chapter.
"As a motorcycle, with Harley Davidson, you have to understand you didn't just get a recreational vehicle," he said. "You bought into the freedom, nostalgia and thought of America when you purchased this bike."
Johnson said motorcycle sales across all brands are down dramatically. A move across the pond would definitely cut their legs out from under them, he said.
Johnson is also a former employee of Harley Davidson in West Fargo, where he was a parts manager for 14 years. He said he doesn't believe the company's prices will go up that much.
"They are not dealing with a great deal of metal, like a combine would be, so how they can say that this will affect them this much could be pure speculation," he said.
But, we also have to remember that most of the goods, most of the things put on that Harley, come from China, he said.
Dave Paulson, 59, of Fargo, is a member of both local and national HOG chapters. He has been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, in particular, since October of 1997.
Paulson said Harley is an American icon, and he would still buy them if they moved overseas. They are one of the best of the best, he said.
Paulson said he would like to see an American-made bike stay here, but he understands that when the costs of doing business increase, businesses must raise their prices.
"I am not happy about a 'made in America' product moving somewhere else, but then you take a look at companies like Ford and General Motors, they are made overseas," he said.
Rory Jorgensen is also a member of both local and national HOG chapters. He bought his first Harley bike on January 19, 1998, and has purchased six more since. He said he would not stop buying them if the company went overseas.
Jorgensen said it would be interesting to see how many businesses Trump has moved overseas. I can't say for sure, but I imagine he has moved over a lot of businesses to avoid tariffs and taxes, he said.
He also said the price of steel has jumped through the roof these past few months.
"I think Harley-Davidson will try to stay here, but overall, you have to look at the cost of doing business," he said. "That's why a lot of businesses move overseas, to figure out how to make it cheaper."
In addition to the company's U.S. manufacturing plants, Harley-Davidson also has plants in Australia, Brazil, India and Thailand, according to the company's website.
In another tweet by Trump Tuesday, June 26, he wrote "Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand. That was long before Tariffs were announced. Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it...."
Harley-Davidson said in Monday's filing that 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.