A Match Made in Heaven?
Not content with owning Audi, Skoda, Seat, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, MAN & Scania, and being in the process of absorbing Porsche, the VW Group has added another name to its list of brands and this time its prestige Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati.
VW’s supervisory board is headed by 75 year old chairman Ferdinand Piech, who has overseen VW becoming one of the worlds most valuable companies, is a confirmed ‘bike nut’ and still rides his own Ducati everyday. Back in 1985, Ferdinand Piech nearly put a deal together to buy the Ducati Company then, but narrowly missed out, and by the looks of it, he wasn’t going to do the same this time around.
Despite Audi being owned by VW, the purchase of Ducati is going into the name of Audi, and whilst the cost of Ducati hasn’t been formerly announced, it’s rumored to be around 860 million Euros, with Audi also taking on board around 200 million Euros of Ducati’s debts, so clearly, we are not talking petty cash here.
This isn’t Audi’s first “Italian Job” as its made a pretty good fist or reestablishing Lamborghini as a serious player in the supercar sector and they also own the design studio Italdesign, both which, like Ducati are located in Northern Italy (remember the Morris Ital?).
The main Ducati factory is in Bologna and is supported by a further factory in Thailand and in 2011; between them, the 1100 Ducati employees produced 42,000 motorcycles, generating an income of around €480 million
Ducati is a prestige brand and Audi is a prestige brand, so it’s an excellent fit and like Audi; Ducati has a real racing heritage, having competed successfully in the MotoGP World Championships where they won 28 races and in 2007 they did the double winning both the Riders World Championship and the Constructors World Title. The World Superbike Championships saw even more success with Ducati rider’s crowned World Champion in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and 3 Constructors Championships for the team in 2006, 2008 and 2011 secured with a magnificent 68 wins.
On the face of it, this all makes sense, but if you look a little deeper, it makes “real sense” as most manufacturers are looking to build smaller, lighter and more powerful engines, which at the same time chuck out less pollution and the one litre 3 cylinder Ford engines now being offered in the Ford Focus are an example of that. So who can you think of that has the technology to build small but powerful lightweight motors? Well me-thinks there are an elephant in the room and apart from anything else, that’s probably a good enough reason alone why Audi might want Ducati.