Indian Motorcycle says it may move production of some of its motorcycles overseas in response to EU tariffs imposed as a result of President Donald Trump’s dotarded trade policies.
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This is the same course of action being taken by Harley-Davidson, which announced earlier this week that it would shift production of Europe-bound vehicles to plants outside of the United States. The 25-percent tariff on US-made motorcycles is part of a raft of EU measures that have come in response to US duties on steel and aluminum imports.
After news of Harley’s decision broke, I got in touch with Indian, who sent this cautious official response:
“Polaris has been supportive of the Administration’s pro-growth agenda, such as tax and regulatory reform, that promote a robust economy and global competitiveness for all US manufacturers. However, the escalating trade war has the potential to erase the benefits Polaris received and the recent EU retaliatory tariffs have required us to expend time, energy and resources to evaluate mitigation plans, including the possibility of moving production of the Indian motorcycles that are destined for Europe from Iowa to our facility in Poland.
The growing impact of this trade war is increasing the costs for our vehicles. We continue to examine various options for managing these cost increases from both the tariffs and the domestic materials pricing.”
No definites there. Perhaps Polaris (Indian’s parent company) is hoping that, like many of Trump’s schemes, the whole thing will fall apart soon and ADHD Donny will get distracted by something else – complaining about how unpatriotic Pottery Barn is, or the morally corrupting nature of Dora the Explorer.
I’m amused by Indian’s wording in its statement: “tariffs have required us to expend time, energy and resources to evaluate mitigation plans.” It’s a tone that seems to rebuke the childishness of all of this – Trump’s idiot trade policies, and Europe’s silly response.
Nonetheless, Indian’s willingness to shift some production away from the United States pokes a few holes in the idea that Harley was just using EU tariffs as cover for an already planned shift. Equally, it damages the argument I’ve seen from a lot of folks that Harley’s actions are actually being driven by dwindling sales. Indian’s sales have increased every quarter.
Personally, I think it would be cool if the Indian motorcycles sold in Europe were made in Europe. I’d happily buy a bike made in Poland, just as I happily bought a Triumph that wasn’t made in the UK. A bike is more than the sum of its parts, and the spirit of a brand can remain rooted in its home country even when its products aren’t all made there, eg, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Budweiser, Guinness, etc.
Harley-Davidsons sold in Europe will still be true Harley-Davidsons even though they won’t be made in the United States. And if Indian chooses to set up shop in Polska, the bikes made there will equally be 100-percent Indian Motorcycle machines despite not having come from the American Midwest.