The settlement comes after the government’s allegations that Harley-Davidson sold after-market “super-tuners,” which, when used, illegally raised emission levels. Harley allegedly sold roughly 340,000 units of the tuners. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer denies liability, claiming that these devices were used in racing events only. However, the EPA maintains that the majority were used for road use. The use of the tuners violates the federal Clean Air Act.
In addition to the $12 million fine, Harley must cease selling the tuners by August 23. Additionally, it must buy back and destroy any remaining units. Harley will also give $3 million to a separate campaign to reduce air pollution.
This case comes on the heels of last year’s revelation that Volkswagen had used “defeat devices” to trick emissions software on 600,000 vehicles.
“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal after-market defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” John Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s environmental and natural resources division, said in a statement.
Harley-Davidson is not the first motorcycle manufacturer to face fines over emissions. In 2012, Suzuki Motor Co. had to pay $885,000 to EPA after selling off-road vehicles that could easily be modified to increase horsepower and emissions.
For its part, Harley maintains that the tuners were for use in competitive racing. In a statement, it referred to the settlement as “a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently, particularly EPA’s assertion that it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle even if it will be used solely for off-road/closed-course competition.”
For anyone who uses the tuner– be aware that Harley-Davidson has been mandated to deny warranty claims on any motorcycles that have used the device.