It wasn’t the first time. It wasn’t even close. Many people who’ve bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle made someone angry by doing it. But none have had the whole world find out about it. That’s where the latest U.S. Secret Service Harley purchase is different.
It’s a totally revved-up story. The department’s top boss and ultimate customer, President Donald J. Trump, is engaged in a full throttle feud with Harley-Davidson. Trump wants Americans to boycott Harley-Davidson. In August he tweeted about it.
Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2018
The feud was fueled over the summer. Trump tariffs on steel and aluminum imports hurt the European Union. In retaliation, the Europeans placed a 31 percent tariff on products including motorcycles made in the U.S.A. Next, to protect its business, Harley-Davidson announced a production change. Its motorcycles destined for customers in European Union countries would now be moved to a factory outside the United States.
The new Secret Service Harley need is one which could be paired with a sidecar. The Federal Business Opportunities website is where the posting of the Secret Service’s plans became far from a secret.
In its proposal justifying the purchase of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the agency explained, “Any other motorcycles would require additional training of staff.” It added there were already mechanics familiar with the bikes, their spare parts, and sidecars. The agency neither made or implied any message of trying to trump the president.
Despite the harsh rhetoric against Harley-Davidson coming from the White House, the current controversy is not much of an off-road adventure. The fact is the company already has existing international production facilities.
Harley has plants in Brazil and India, with another one opening in Thailand. Inside the U.S., the Milwaukee, Wisconsin based iconic brand is closing shop in Kansas City, Missouri, while expanding operations in its plant in York, Pennsylvania. Harley-Davidson confirmed its motorcycles sold in the U.S. will continue to be built here.
Stay tuned for the next shift in the Secret Service Harley-Davidson relationship.