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Running on Fumes

Motorcycle Laws Hurt and Help Sales

Monday, February 16, 2009
The motorcycle news of late has taken a definite legal/political bent. There are plenty of issues to talk about, like the recent Florida Supreme Court Ruling on ATVs or the mammoth Omnibus land use legislation, but let’s stick with two laws that could make the biggest impact in 2009 sales: 

Motorcycles in Economic Stimulus Package
Lead Ban Stops Youth ATV and Motorcycle Sales

First there is the near trillion-dollar stimulus package, where new motorcycle purchases are now included, along with cars and light trucks, as deductable for 2009 taxes. You can bet the AMA/Harley-Davidson lobbyists that snuck that nugget into the final draft of the gargantuan stimulus will be on the X-mass card lists of every OEM once the holiday season rolls back around. The incentive of a tax deduction could rouse lackluster sales. It would seem to be a win-win, riders and manufacturers get a break and increased bike sales could help rev up the economy.

But the stimulus news comes on the heels of a more troubling realization, as new lead restrictions are pulling millions of dollars worth of OHV stock off the sales floor. The restrictions are due to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, enacted last August, which was passed after the spate of Chinese toy recalls due to lead paint.

Before blaming one party or the other, know that the CPSIA passed without any significant opposition. It was an almost unanimous passage in both the House and Senate – after all, who is not going to vote against getting rid of Chinese toys with lead!

Unintended consequences of the CPSIA are decimating the industry, however, as the law has been interpreted to apply to any products marketed to children under 12, not just toys. So, along with OHVs, there are a whole slew of products prohibited as of February 10th, and it affects sales of used products too.

Now does any reasonable person believe that children old enough to ride motorized OHVs ingest enough lead from the alloy frames or brake levers that it would cause serious health problems? How many of the over 500 legislators that voted for the CPSIA would do so again if they realized the complications involved.

It would seem reasonable that any sales gleaned from the stimulus tax cut are getting lost by the CPSIA restrictions. So let’s hope reason and common sense (along with voters pressing their representatives) prevail, allowing dealers to put youth OHV back on the sales floor – whether by act of Congress or reinterpretation of the law.
Post Tags: motorcycle laws, lead restrictions
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