You have to love labor unions sometimes. Faced with the prospect of being completely out of work, the labor union negotiators have rejected a proposal from Paolo Berlusconi that would save Moto Morini from going completely out of business. Of course us Americans can relate to this plight, as we just recently watched the UAW try to pull the same tactic while the US automotive industry crumbled around them. The blocked agreement is obviously bad news for Moto Morini, but Berlesconi is likely not done pursuing the troubled Italian manufacturer.
After a 60 year hiatus, Lambretta is finally returning back to the 125GP racing stage. Entering as Lambretta Reparto Corse, the team has already confirmed Marco Ravaioli as one of their two riders. The move seems to be primarily to help get the iconic Italian brand back into the public limelight as Lambretta is set to start production of its first new range of scooters since the 1970’s.
According to Lambretta, the team will hold a racing department in Bologna at the workshops of Engines Engineering, despite Lambretta being based out of Milan. Nicola Casadei will serve as the team’s Sporting Director, while Giancarlo Cecchini will develop the bike’s rotary valve engine, which is expected to show up in new Lambretta designs.
With track conditions at the Imola causing a near mutiny during the practice sessions, there was a panic in the WSBK paddock as to whether racing would occur at the Bologna circuit this weekend. After track officials cleaned the Imola tarmac, it became too slippery to ride upon. Whether due to the mixture of oil and water on the track, or the absence of the usual layers of rubber forming on the race line, the conditions caused riders to refuse to take to the track over safety concerns.
Commenting about the conditions, Ben Spies stated the course was slipperier than full wet conditions. Max Biaggi was also heard saying that the course was too slippery for racing, and that Sunday’s races could not take place on the course under these circumstances. Despite this, WSBK Superpole action still occurred, read on for more.
It looks like Ducati will be moving out of their current headquarters at Borgo Panigale (just outside the old city walls of Bologna), and into a new facility down the road at Perscietana. The new facility will boast nearly 1.8 million square feet, with space included for events and exhibits for customers and visitors, along with a new restaurant and test track.
The world markets may be down, and stores may dropping out of business like it’s third period French class, but Ducati is finding the economic downturn to have an upside on its balance sheet.
Ducati’s sales revenue for the first three quarters of 2008 grew by 25% compared to last year’s figures. This means to close to $417MM in revenue for the Bologna Bandits, with their bottom line looking 87% better than before, totaling in at $41MM.
Why now brown cow? Well shipments from Desmo-central to dealer floor rooms has been up by 19% for the year so far, with sales up 8% worldwide. In the meantime, worldwide industry sales are down 6%. Evidently, those cars that people aren’t buying, is not equating into motorcycle purchases (you know…for the mileage advantage)
The Bologna Boys say they are still on track to achieve a forecast 20% growth in worldwide sales for full fiscal year, up from a predicted 15% sales growth.
How are the other European manufacturers doing?
KTM has had a 50% drop in operating profit for the full 12 months of its fiscal year, closing the books at $21MM. The House of Orange (not Oranj) is blaming this decline on a bad Dollar to Euro exchange rate, and plans to cut motorcycle production for the 2009 season by 10%.
Piaggio (owner of Aprilia, and most of Europe’s scooters) is also cutting back on production across all its motorcycle and scooter brands after depressing results for the first 3 quarters of 2008. Overall sales were down by almost 6%, falling 10% in Europe, which accounts for about 80% of its bike and scooter sales.
BMW, while slightly more insulated, is feeling the pain too, with global motorcycle sales down by 2.5% in the same period, and profit from bikes falling by nearly 16%.
In other financial news, the trade-deficit for sportbike hotness in the United States has increased another 300%. Sorry Buell.