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Harley-Davidson to pay $15 million for emissions violations

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Move over Volkswagen. There's another vehicle maker on the hook for emissions violations, and it's one of the biggest names on two wheels: Harley-Davidson.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday it had slapped the American motorcycle maker with $12 million in civil penalties and another $3 million in mitigation fees for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

According to the DOJ, Harley sold almost 340,000 super tuners -- an aftermarket device that increases a motorcycle's power by altering its fuel injection system but also increases its emissions. The super tuners were used on motorcycles dating back to 2008, the DOJ said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the elevated emissions during a routine investigation of emissions certification materials Harley-Davidson submitted to the agency. The EPA says Harley also sold an additional 12,000 motorcycles that did not undergo proper EPA emissions certification to meet federal clean air standards.

In a statement, Harley-Davidson said it agreed to pay the $15 million as a good faith compromise with the EPA. Harley says its super tuners were designed and sold legally.

Nevertheless, under the terms of the DOJ agreement, Harley is required to stop selling super tuners August 23. Whatever inventory remains in stock at its U.S. dealerships needs to be bought back and destroyed.

Any super tuners Harley might sell in the future will require certification from the California Air Resources Board; super tuners sold outside the U.S. will need to be labeled as not for use in the U.S.

Sue Carpenter is co-host of The Ride, Southern California Public Radio's series on modern mobility.