THE CRASH OF SMALL-VOLUME MOTORCYCLE MAKERS: DOES ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION SHARE THE BLAME?
Washington, DC . What does restrictive environmental regulation do to the small-volume motorcycle maker? "It put us out of business," says the former owner of a company that ceased operations last year.
A new, troubling analysis of the fragile nature of America's small-volume motorcycle makers underscores the importance of countering the recent bid by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to toughen emissions standards for street motorcycles and attendant regulations that impact even individual motorcyclists themselves.
While many factors are responsible for business success or failure, the analysis by Motorcycle Product News points to environmental regulation as significant in the demise of such firms.
The person quoted in the excerpt below is Steve Williams, owner of the former Wild Boar Motorcycle Manufacturing which the industry magazine describes as "one of many American Cruiser manufacturers, at least 13, by our count, that dissolved operations in Y2K."
"[Every small-volume American motorcycle manufacturer] Motorcycle Product News spoke with acknowledged that sales were down - in some cases dramatically..[S]ome very pointed legislation put the hurt on smallermanufacturers recently. In early Fall of 2000, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) eliminated its small-manufacturer exemption clause that protected companies manufacturing less than 200 vehicles a year from having to undergo CARB's costly pre-production emissions testing. According to Williams, his production bikes previously had to pass a full emissions inspection - but hedidn't have to submit a machine to CARB pre-production for extensive testing. Following the revocation of this exemption, Williams and any other small-capacity maker [must] submit one complete motorcycle - along with a $60,000 fee - to CARB to gain approval.this is extremely cost-prohibitive..' [Said Williams,] 'We were [manufacturing] a dozen or 15 bikes a year. We couldn't afford to send one of each model, along with $60,000, to CARB each year, so it put us out of business.'"
EPA seeks to control the smallest of motorcycle makers in the same way. In their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, EPA questions the appropriatenessof the current federal definition of small business as applied to small-volumebike makers. This implies a strong suggestion of the agency's interest in applying a new, more restrictive standard to ALL motorcycle makers regardless of the small number of bikes produced. Just as CARB did.
In the last two weeks, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation's concern about EPA was voiced loud and clear to Members of Congress by representatives of thefollowing State Motorcyclists Rights Organizations (SMROs): ABATE ofMichigan,ABATE of Wisconsin, ABATE of Illinois, ABATE of Alaska, ABATE of Oregon and the Washington Road Riders Association. SMROs report that their concerns havebeen met with wide bi-partisan support in Congress.
"Not since the repeal of federal sanctions against states without mandatory helmet laws has a single federal issue generated so much concern, activism and fervor in the motorcycling community," observed Thomas Pauley, MRF President.
Mr. Pauley encouraged motorcyclists to take the following actions:
1. Consult our web page, review MRF's public comment and add your comment to the public record. http://www.mrf.org/.
2. Write to your Congressman and your U.S. Senators. In order of impact, personal visits are best, followed by a personal letter, a fax, a phone call and an e-mail.
3. Notify motorcycle dealers and all custom shops in your area. Urge them to join MRF and Ride with the LeadersT in combating this threat.
4. Urge your SMRO to plan a trip to Washington to meet the state's Congressional delegation and share your concerns about the EPA threat.
"We are convinced that, unless EPA's push for new regulations is stopped, it will hamper motorcycle performance, hike prices, threaten small-volume motorcycle makers, wipe out the delicate motorcycle after-market, all but eliminate custom shops, and limit, if not eliminate, riders' freedom to individualize our machines without having an appreciable positive impact on the pollution inventory."
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