Enforcement and Inspection, Special Topics in Environmental Management

Now Harley-Davidson Settles Defeat-Device Allegation

Following the $14.7 billion penalty leveled against Volkswagen®, EPA’s $12 million settlement with Harley-Davidson, Inc., over the company’s alleged sale of illegal defeat devices for use on its motorcycles, is a significant enforcement action that highlights the government’s militant stance against vehicle manufacturers it asserts are violating the Clean Air Act (CAA).

According to the EPA/U.S. Department of Justice complaint, from 2008 through 2015, Harley-Davidson sold nearly 340,000 Screamin’ Eagle “super tuners” for use on its bikes. The principle function of the tuners is to bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements in the bikes computer (e.g., the certified fuel maps and spark timing maps in computers) that control emissions. With these components nonfunctioning, the power and performance of the motorcycle is enhanced while emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) increase.

In a statement, Harley-Davidson said the settlement was not an admission of liability. According to the company, the super tuners were designed and sold as an after-market, competition-only product.

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