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Harley-Davidson Clean Air Act Settlement

(Washington, DC)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a settlement with Harley-Davidson, Inc., Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, Inc., and Harley-Davidson Motor Company Operations, Inc. (collectively Harley-Davidson), that requires the companies to stop selling and to buy back and destroy illegal tuning devices that increase air pollution from their motorcycles, and to sell only tuning devices that are certified to meet Clean Air Act emissions standards.  Harley-Davidson will also pay a $12 million civil penalty.  

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Overview of Company

Harley-Davidson, Inc., founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1903, is the largest American manufacturer of motorcycles.  It is the world's fifth largest motorcycle manufacturer.  In the U.S., Harley-Davidson manufactures its motorcycles at factories in York, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Kansas City, Missouri.

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EPA alleges that Harley-Davidson violated the Clean Air Act by manufacturing and selling about 340,000 devices, known as tuners, that allow users to change how a motorcycle’s engine functions.  These changes can cause the motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than they would in the original configuration that Harley-Davidson certified with EPA. 

Harley-Davidson also manufactured and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles that EPA alleges did not undergo proper EPA certification to ensure they meet federal clean air standards.

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Injunctive Relief

Under the settlement, Harley-Davidson:

  • will immediately stop selling the tuners, buy back all of the tuners in stock at their dealerships and destroy the tuners.
  • obtain certification from the California Air Resources Board for any tuners it sells in the future. These certifications will demonstrate that new tuners do not cause their motorcycles to exceed their certified emissions limits.
  • will conduct tests on tuner-equipped motorcycles and provide the results to EPA to guarantee that their motorcycles remain in compliance with EPA certification requirements for emissions. 
  • will also ensure that all of its future motorcycle models intended for sale in the United States are fully certified by EPA.

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Pollutant Impacts

Prior to the settlement, Harley-Davidson manufactured and sold two types of tuners, which when hooked up to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, allow users to modify certain aspects of a motorcycles’ emissions control system. These modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx).  Hydrocarbon and NOx emissions contribute to harmful ground-level ozone, and NOx also contributes to fine particulate matter pollution.

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

Exposure to ozone and particulate matter pollution has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Exposure to these pollutants has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants. 

By reducing the chance that Harley-Davidson motorcycles produce emissions above their legally certified levels, this agreement contributes to state and federal efforts to meet air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter.  

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Civil Penalty

Harley-Davidson will pay a $12 million civil penalty.  

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in July 2017, was the subject of a 30-day public comment period and is subject to final court approval.  Public comment was also received on a prior version of this settlement, which was announced in August 2016. 

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For more information, contact:

Evan Belser, Chief
Vehicle and Engine Enforcement Branch
Air Enforcement Division
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

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