The Italian press is one of those entities that you have to both love and hate at the same time. Rumors are swirling today in Italy about a possible merger between Ducati and Piaggio that is being investigated by strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Co. According to reports, the goal of such a merger would be to create one large Italian motorcycle manufacturer capable of competing with the Japanese Four. However like all good gossip, you have to consider the source and run things past the smell test, and this rumor smells like something fanciful made up by the Italian media.
The Piaggio Group has annouced that it has devised a new business plan for its subsidiary, Moto Guzzi. According to Roberto Colaninno, President of the Piaggio Group, the new business plan will ensure that Moto Guzzi releases a new line of motorcycles during the 2011-2012 model year.
Helping fuel this product line extension will be the investment of €12 million that the parent company plans to dump into Moto Guzzi’s coffers, but the money comes attached with some interesting strings from the European Investment Bank. More on this after the jump.
This week, the Piaggio group, which owns several brands including Aprilia & Gilera released its 2009-2012 strategic plan, where it told investors that the company intends to develop a range of sports bikes with mid-sized engines for the American market.
What that means exactly is fairly vague, as no other details beyond this simple statment were given, “The Group intends to work on the growth of different brand names, also through the development of sport bikes with mid-sized engines.”
Many have speculated that this means that Aprilia will be releasing a 600cc sport bike to go along side its RSV4, and that seems like a fairly logical conclusion.
And then, we remembered this rumor from last year, Gilera 600cc Supersport 2009 Fact or Fiction?
The Piaggio Group Americas is opening a new national technical center in Costa Mesa, CA. The 12,000 square foot facility houses the company’s product testing and technical training operations, including factory product training and classroom instruction for service technicians from all U.S. and Canadian dealerships, as well as Latin American importers. Piaggio, which had all-time record-setting U.S. sales in 2008, continues to expand both its model line and dealer network with over 500 dealers serving customers in North America. The company also anticipates ongoing strong demand for its diverse range of scooters and motorcycles as consumers shift focus to more economical personal transportation.
The Piaggio Group, which owns Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Aprilia, Derbi and Moto Guzzi, has just been given the green light on a seven year, €150 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The money is ear-marked to be used for R&D, with a focus on hybrid and electric vehicles. Read more about the loan after the jump.
I’ve sat on this story for a few days now, trying to figure out what exactly is going on? Is Aprilia once again digging up the Gilera brand as a sportbike entry? Is this wishful thinking by an Italian designer known for “concept” sketches? Is this poor reporting by the motorcycle blogsphere? Or all of the above?
Let me start from the beginning, and in the end I’ll let you decide.
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.