I am a motorcyclist, also known as a biker.
I ride a Harley (for non-bikers this means I currently own and ride a Harley-Davidson).
I have ridden bikes from five different makers, manufactured in the US, Japan and the UK. Because this is a passion of mine I follow the industry closely and have for some time although I have been more focused on other things in the last few years.
So, when the subject of motorcycles (and tariffs) comes up I know a little about what’s going on; smoke, mirrors, politics and BS.
Harley-Davidson has been in trouble economically for quite sometime. They rode the wave of a certain demographic and milked it for all it was worth without seeing that this wave would crest and break one day like it did about ten years ago. Their target market started to dry up and they have been scrambling ever since. Somehow, the powers that be in Milwaukee have decided that marketing American Steel (irony) to developing nations in Asia would be their next big wave.
They might be right but I think they might have downed a bit too much of their own Koolaid. Not only is there not much of a culture of leather clad, Easy Rider wannabes in India and other Asian nations but there is a very real problem in that most of those nations have fairly high tariffs to protect local industry and jobs (more irony). So, H-D needs an excuse to close at least one US plant (since US demand is and will continue to be down) and open one or more overseas. They need to do this without alienating their primary customer base, most of whom are probably firmly in the Make America Great Again camp. Suddenly they have the perfect cover; Trumpet and his efforts to “level the playing field for the American steel industry” and Harley gets the excuse they need and they can blame it on trade wars. The left can jump on this and blame it on Trumpet.
Harley runs the risk of backlash from their core demographic but that demographic is shrinking after all. The few bikes that H-D makes that appeal to younger demographics (who are less likely to be Trumpeters) have been manufactured in Brazil for a decade or two (although they were previously assembled in the US).
Now, that last little bit (OK, huge dose) of irony in this little mess?
Harley Davidson has prospered for the last forty years because of US tariffs against big bore (large displacement) foreign (especially Japanese) motorcycles. Yup, a tariff of up to 50% (49.5% actually) and limits on the number of motorcycles that could be imported into the US has ensured the profitability of H-D since the early 1980’s…
Now that the US is no longer their primary growth market, tariffs are their excuse to move production overseas.
Of course, no one looking for yet another reason to hate Trumpet will bother to get the those pesky things known as facts. In fairness, no one looking for yet another reason to adore him with either.
Take care and God bless.