NHTSA Waives Buy-American Requirement for Michigan's Suzukis

American Makers Don't Offer a Motorcycle Small and Light Enough for Rider Training Program

The state of Michigan can go ahead and buy 20 foreign-made motorcycles after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration waived rules requiring the purchase American-made vehicles if federal grant money is involved.

And Michigan can do so starting today.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning will use the grant money to buy 20 Suzuki training motorcycles because American makers do not make something small or light enough for the job.

The so-called “Buy America rules” say NHTSA cannot award any funds “unless steel, iron, and manufactured products used in such project are produced in the United States.”

NHTSA is allowed to waive the rules if they are “inconsistent with the public interest” or such materials and products are not produced in the United States in reasonably available quantities or “the inclusion of domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project contract by more than 25 percent.”

Which is apparently what would have happened had Michigan bought machines from Harley-Davidson or Victory, the two manufacturers the state said it researched.

Michigan wants to buy 20 2015 Suzuki TU250X motorcycles. Their starting price is $4,169.

Michigan wants to use the machines for a motorcycle training program because the smaller machines are easier to learn to ride. And cheaper.

Harley Davidson’ Street 500 is priced between $6,700 and $7,500. Victory Motorcycles’ cheapest model comes in at $12,499, the NHTSA said. No mention of the new Indian Scout, which is priced at $10,000.

NHTSA awarded Michigan grant funds to improve rider training, thus reducing traffic accidents and deaths, injuries and property damage.

As an aside, NHTSA rejected Michigan’s parallel request to lease a foreign-made copy/printer/fax machine.