What's the Biggest Problem Facing Harley-Davidson, Trump or Demographic Trends in the US?
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – July 4, 2018
For the fourth time in just over a week, President Donald Trump went after Harley-Davidson after they announced that the company would shift some of its production outside the US because of Trump's tariff fight with the European Union.
“Build them in the USA. The customers won’t be happy if you don’t.” That was President Trump last week after Harley announced they’ll move some production overseas to avoid Europe’s tariff hike. In a tweet Tuesday, the President went after Harley for the fourth time in just over a week.
Now that Harley-Davidson is moving part of its operation out of the U.S., my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S. Harley customers are not happy with their move - sales are down 7% in 2017. The U.S. is where the Action is!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
“The best thing to do is focus on a trade policy that gets us to no tariffs”, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told to WISN 12 News reporter.
Walker was attending the Menomonee Falls 4th of July Parade, when pushed about the President’s Harley talk on Twitter.
When asked Tuesday night about Trump's tweets, Walker said, "I don't know that anyone is going to tell him one way or another about tweeting about any subject."
“I am not happy about it at all. Harley is an American-made bike. I used to work there. I don’t think this is right at all," Steve Klabunde, a long time rider, said. “I’m looking at an Indian now.”
“No, only Harleys”, Cheryl Tillery feels differently, and says she visited the Harley Museum Monday and they reassured her all of this is just political talk.
“I am hoping that is really the truth, that they are not taking things overseas, but what they do take overseas is what they will sell over there. Production will stay here.”
But there's a glaring problem with Trump's attack: The president cited 2017 sales data, but Harley made its announcement only last week.
Benn Steil, Director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, joked that the Harley customers must be psychic.
"To punish Harley-Davidson for shifting production out of the U.S. in response to Trump's trade war, Americans went back in time to reduce the company's sales in 2017 — the year Trump thanked them for building in America," Steil tweeted. "Astounding!"
To punish Harley-Davidson for shifting production out of the U.S. in response to Trump's trade war, Americans went back in time to reduce the company's sales in 2017 - the year Trump thanked them for building in America. Astounding!https://t.co/qi80VuDXFH https://t.co/qH23ALJ69S— Benn Steil (@BennSteil) July 3, 2018
Harley's sales have been declining for four years in a row — the slide started before Trump even announced his run for president. Automotive analysts say that the long-term demographic trends in the US and other structural issues were much bigger problems for Harley.