Harley-Davidson is expected to hit a snag in its long-term business plan today, with the European Union expected to enact a 25 per cent tariff on its motorcycles, along with bikes from Indian and other American marques.
Harley-Davidson is a flagship made-in-the-USA brand, a company that has traded on domestic and international hunger for Americana for decades. Its marketing content is always full of themes of freedom and independence, along with the classic American symbol of the eagle.
Indian has much the same marketing strategy, with a few less eagles, but otherwise the bikes follow a similar pattern, with styling to emulate classic cruisers and constant references to their American origins.
However, the European Union isn’t happy with the trade policies enacted by President Donald Trump, particularly his tariffs on aluminum and steel, and has decided to fight back with its own tariffs on some made-in-America products, including motorcycles over 500 cc. That includes almost every Harley-Davidson model, everything in the Indian lineup, and most machines from smaller US manufacturers as well (Motus, Curtiss, etc.). The EU is adding a 25 per cent tariff on those bikes, which will significantly raise the cost, making them less desirable for many consumers.
That’s bad for all these manufacturers, but especially Harley-Davidson, as it’s just bringing the new Softail platform to market, and has built a large portion of its company’s future plans around the idea of overseas sales boosting revenues. Those overseas sales numbers have already been weaker than Harley-Davidson hoped in recent months, and this news is going to be an even tougher pill to swallow.
India is also enacting a similar tariff on American motorcycles, although Harley-Davidson does have a manufacturing facility in India and will likely be able to dodge some of those taxes as a result.
The tariff is supposed to come into effect Friday, June 22, and is part of a package of taxes on a variety of American goods, including bourbon whiskey, denim jeans, power boats and other products.