Dec. 22, 2008 – Hot News

AMA, European OEMs fighting potential tariffs

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is strongly criticizing the Bush Administration’s consideration of a possible 100 percent tariff on certain European motorcycles and scooters in retaliation for European Union (EU) restrictions on imported American beef.
The U.S. Trade Representative Office (USTR) is looking at a list of more than 100 European goods for the possible imposition of 100 percent import duties in response to the EU’s ongoing import ban on American beef treated with growth hormones. EU officials haven’t lifted the 20-year-old ban despite a World Trade organization order to end it. The Bush Administration is now looking to impose $116.8 million in import duties to equal the amount of money it says the U.S. beef industry loses each year because of the ban.
“In this tough recessionary climate, it’s ludicrous for the USTR to even consider imposing a 100 percent motorcycle and scooter tariff, because the move will cost countless Americans their jobs,” said Ed Moreland, AMA vice present for government relations.
Included on the list are two-wheeled vehicles with 51-500cc engines, which would directly affect models from companies such as Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Gas Gas, Husaberg, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco and Vespa.
Paolo Timoni, CEO of Piaggio Group Americas Inc., says his company strongly opposes the tariff proposal because of the impact it could have on its business operations and dealer network.
“It does not make sense for the USTR to punish U.S. employees of Piaggio Group Americas, which is what this tariff would ultimately accomplish,” he said. “They must also take into consideration the negative impact the tariff would have on our 400-plus U.S. dealers. I have no doubt that these measures, if passed, would force Piaggio Group Americas and a significant number of its dealers out of business.”
The AMA said in a press release that it has sent comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative by a Dec. 8 deadline to express the opinions of the association’s 300,000 members on the possible tariffs.
“It is simply unconscionable that motorcycles and scooters are on the list in the first place. They have no place in a trade war over beef,” Moreland said.
It is unclear when U.S. officials will decide which European goods will be hit with the stiff tariffs. Calls to the U.S. Trade Representative office were not returned by press time.

Polaris, HSBC reach settlement

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit between Polaris Industries and HSBC Bank Nevada where the manufacturer said HSBC violated terms of an exclusive contract between the two companies.
In the lawsuit, Polaris said the finance company threatened to drastically tighten retail credit standards at Polaris dealerships and in so doing, jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in retail sales.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Northern Illinois, said the “amount in controversy exceeds $75 million.”
Polaris officials said the terms of the settlement are confidential.
Polaris officials also said the company anticipates that HSBC will continue to provide revolving retail credit to qualified customers through the end of the contract term on Oct. 31, 2010.

MIC data suggests more women riders

A Motorcycle Industry Council owner survey is revealing trends among buyers, according to a Motorcycle Industry Council press release.
These trends include buyers’ reasons for riding and what they’re riding. The survey also looks at the new demographics of American motorcyclists.
The survey began in January and will end in December, says Cam Arnold, MIC vice president of communications. Final numbers for the survey will be revealed in March.
Through the first three quarters of the survey, female owners increased by 29 percent, compared to 2003.
Like the survey from five years ago, the preliminary 2008 findings suggest that pleasure was the No. 1 reason for riding motorcycles.

Dover Corp. names new CEO

Dover Corp., which owns Warn Industries and Performance Motorsports among others, announced that Robert Livingston has been named CEO and elected to the board of directors, effective Dec. 1. The company also announced that Ronald Hoffman, Dover’s current CEO, will retire Nov. 30. According to a company press release, these actions reflect a management transition that was first announced by Dover in June of this year.

Harley names new vice president

A public relations executive who formerly worked at Kohl’s Department Stores and Miller Brewing Co. has joined Harley-Davidson Inc.
Susan Henderson, the newly named vice president of communications for Harley-Davidson, will develop and direct the company’s global and strategic communications initiatives, according to a press release.
Henderson will report to Jim Ziemer, Harley-Davidson’s CEO.
Most recently, Henderson was vice president of corporate communications at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in Chicago.

GM sells the rest of its Suzuki stock

Suzuki Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. will continue their working relationship despite GM’s decision to sell its remaining Suzuki stock, the companies announced. GM sold its remaining 3 percent of Suzuki stock on the Tokyo stock market for about $230 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The companies, however, will continue to promote and implement not only existing projects, including collaboration on advanced auto technologies, but also collaboration on entries in new emerging markets. psb

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