The second, main focus of the suit was on Harley-Davidson’s sale of approximately 340,000 Screamin' Eagle Pro Super Tuners, a tuning module that allowed users to modify EFI programming to suit aftermarket modifications for proper fueling and to create better performance, which has the side effect of modifying emissions in ways that can end up outside of federal clean air standards.
“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities. Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”
The Justice Department’s statement is telling in multiple ways.
First, saying “given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry” seems to hint that Harley-Davidson was singled out for a case like this to be made an example out of before the rest of the motorcycle industry; particularly those who manufacture performance exhaust parts and tuning modules.
Describing the tuning modules as “illegal aftermarket defeat devices” presumes them and their use to be inherently illegal, regardless of how they are used (even off-road and in racing, where they are intended to be used by manufacturers.)
The beginning of the closing sentence, “anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products” reads like a thinly veiled threat to every OEM and aftermarket manufacturer of any part or device that affects emissions; and suggesting they “should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions” is all but proof that the EPA and the Justice Department used Harley-Davidson to make an example out of, and to scare the rest of the industry into submission.
This story is about a lot more than Harley-Davidson getting fined for pushing the boundaries with its aftermarket parts.
It means that not only can companies now be held liable for the unproven, potential misuse of their devices, but that the government has managed to bend the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the nation to their will.