BEDMINSTER, NJ – A day after welcoming “Bikers for Trump” into the crystal-chandeliered ballroom at his golf club’s clubhouse here, President Donald Trump has gone on the offensive again against U.S. manufacturer Harley-Davidson, saying in a Sunday morning Tweet that many of the brand’s “owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!”
Trump’s Tweet continued, “Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors” and declared that Harley-Davidson’s decision to start building models destined for European sales overseas a “really bad move!”
On Saturday, Trump welcomed a “Bikers for Trump” fan group. He signed autographs and posed for selfies, while his guests booed reporters. According to the AP, Trump thanked the group for coming. Noting their longterm support, he called their motorcycles “the most beautiful bikes anyone’s ever seen.”
The AP story reported that the riders came on “dozens and dozens of gleaming Harleys, Honda and other motorcycles.”
Trump also thanked the group via Twitter.
Meanwhile, a “New York Times” story posted online Saturday, dated Sturgis, S.D. and headlined “Trump’s War With Harley-Davidson Has Divided America’s Bikers,” examined the impact of Trump-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, which resulted in retaliation by European Union.
Europe represents Harley-Davidson’s second largest market. Roughly 16 percent of all new Harley-Davidsons are sold in Europe; a total of nearly 40,000 in 2017. The new tariffs went into effect on June 22 and raised the rate on exports from 6 percent to 31 percent, increasing the cost to the European buyer of an average motorcycle built in the U.S. by $2,200.
Trump repeatedly attacked Harley-Davidson in late June and July via Twitter, saying the iconic motorcycle manufacturer “surrendered” and “quit” in a trade war and is potentially facing “the beginning of the end.”
Harley-Davidson isn’t alone in shifting production overseas of models bound for Europe. Indian announced two weeks ago that it will begin building motorcycles at its factory in Opole, Poland next year.
Trump did not specify in Sunday morning’s Tweet which “Harley competitors” are “coming in our direction,” that is, planning to begin building motorcycles in the U.S. He made a similar claim in a Tweet on July 3, saying “my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S.”
Honda formerly built its Gold Wing model at the plant in Marysville, OH but ended production in 2009 after nearly 30 years.
– By Bud Wilkinson