Almost four years ago, we reported on Ducati opening a new assembly plant in Thailand. The move, which peeved Ducati’s factory workers, would see bikes destined for the Southeast Asian market assembled in the Thai plant, thus side-stepping many of the region’s aggressive tariffs on motorcycles.
Nearing the end of 2014 now, and our Bothan Spies report that the Ducati Scrambler models will be the first motorcycles assembled in Ducati’s Thai plant that will then be shipped to the world market (sans the European market, which will get bikes still from Bologna, according to Moto.it) — a move that comes right after Ducati reached a new contract with its workers and unions, which sees the factory employees working fewer hours at higher wages.
On the corporate side of the equation, this news represents logical business thinking. Frames and engines for the Scrambler will still be built in Ducati’s Borgo Panigale factory, and then will be shipped to Thailand for assembly, along with all the other pieces of the Scrambler.
It should be noted that Ducati already outsources many of its parts construction, so the Bologna factory is really only producing the engines and frames, and then assembling the rest of the motorcycle on its assembly line. How much that process then really changes by having Thai workers do the work, rather than Italian workers, is a subject for debate, though we would answer with “not much”.
From a business perspective, this is why the move makes so much sense, and why Ducati can offer the Scrambler at a $8,500 starting price. You pay more for the skilled labor the does the engine and frame construction, you pay less for the unskilled labor that assembles the motorcycle, and then you pass the savings from that process onto the customer.
From the stereotypical Ducatisti perspective, I can see a knee-jerk reaction of handbags at dawn, followed by more calculated comments about how one’s own motorcycle is still a real Ducati because it was assembled in Bologna, and not Thailand…as if all of a sudden Italy’s black mark of unreliable vehicles that some guy named Tony was always fixing again was whisked away.
Up-close with the Ducati Scrambler, and one would be none the wiser in the difference of quality, of course. And certainly the comments from WDW2014, INTERMOT, and the AIMExpo up to this point have been positive about the Scrambler’s construction, fit-and-finish, and overall Ducati-esqueness.
Consider that to be the blind taste of the machine. Now we just have to deal with the bias of external information…like why Ducati doesn’t list the Scrambler as a model on its webpage, instead sequestering the new model to its own separate website.
Source: Bothan Spies