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U.S. EPA fines Harley-Davidson for motorcycle emissions

Harley-Davidson Inc. agreed to pay a USD 12 million civil fine and stop selling illegal after-market devices that cause its motorcycles to emit too much pollution, the U.S. Justice Department announced. While Harley-Davidson did not admit liability, the settlement resolves government allegations that Harley-Davidson sold super tuners that enabled motorcycles to pollute the air at levels greater than what it certified to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2008.

EPA said the modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

Harley-Davidson must also deny warranty claims if owners continue to use the devices.

Harley-Davidson said the settlement represents “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.”

However, the EPA said that the vast majority of the tuners that were sold, estimated at around 340,000 units, were used on public roads. The sale of “defeat devices” such as super tuners violates the federal Clean Air Act, the government said.

Harley-Davidson was also accused of selling more than 12,600 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification governing clean air compliance.

The settlement calls for Harley-Davidson to stop selling these super tuners by August 23, buy back and destroy all the super tuners left at its dealerships.

EPA has been investigating after-market part emission issues for more than five years. Other companies have been fined by the EPA for selling after-market parts to diesel truck owners to remove emission controls and boost horsepower and fuel efficiency.