KTM Wants to Buy Ducati

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The future of Ducati seems to be always up in the air, especially with Volkswagen AG’s constant back-and-forth when it comes to selling the motorcycle brand.

The German’s latest attempt to sell Ducati may have faltered in the boardroom, but there is new reason to believe that acquisition talks could be started for Ducati, as KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has expressed interest in owning the Italian motorcycle company.

Talking to German-language publication Speedweek, Pierer expressed his interest in adding Ducati to his stable of motorcycle marques, and floated some ideas on how Ducati could fit into KTM’s overall two-wheeled strategy.

His thoughts are…interesting, to say the least.

The conversation stems from Pierer’s desire to make KTM into the third-largest motorcycle brand in the world by 2020, behind Honda and Yamaha. Editor’s note: we assume this to mean third-largest in the big displacement categories.

With over 265,000 motorcycles sold each year now, KTM has been one of the few brands to sustain its growth through the recession and onward. In the US market, for instance, KTM is one of only a handful of brands showing sales growth – at our last count, by a margin of 30%.

This growth doesn’t include the success that KTM has seen from the Husqvarna brand, which itself has seen a phoenix’s rising while under the management of Pierer and KTM. What does this all mean for Ducati though?

For sure, KTM would be a home for Ducati that understands the motorcycle business, and having an owner that wasn’t thinking of Ducati as a financial instrument is probably a wise course for a brand that works in the motorcycle industry.

But in his talking to Speedweek, Pierer makes some interesting comments that should give loyal Ducatisti pause.

 “I soon realized that the automotive industry often plays a pioneering role for the motorcycle industry,” said Pierer to Speedweek (translation by Google). “When the Volkswagen Group with all its brands developed the platform strategy, I saw this as a role model.”

“Today, engines and chassis are built partly identical for both brands [KTM and Husqvarna], but in the house with us is not working against each other. Now we can offer two brands under one roof, thereby increasing the customer frequency.”

It is hard to argue that the platform strategy is not working out for KTM and Husqvarna (I’ll make a counterpart to this at a later time), but what does it mean if Ducati is added to the mix?

Will desmodromic engines be on KTMs, will v-twin engines be replaced on Ducatis? It is hard to see how KTM , Husqvarna, and Ducati can all share a platform without losing their individual identities.

The overlap between KTM and Ducati might be too large of pill to swallow as well, with both companies focusing on their racing heritage to move motorcycles. 

“Ducati is the Ferrari of the motorcycle industry,” continued Pierer with Speedweek. “Of course, having such a brand in our group would be interesting. It is not a question of price, but it is about the topic: When does everyone realize the situation they are in.”

The situation that Pierer is referring to is the changing global climate, and the ever increasing challenges that OEMs face when it comes to emission and noise standards.

Pierer is also referring to the motorcycle industry’s new map, which no longer favors the western markets, and insteads turns towards the rising sales in India, China, and Southeast Asia (to name a few locales).

The question then becomes, how does a brand like Ducati face these new realities, and for Pierer, how does he manage KTM and Husqvarna for this brave new world for motorcycles?

Is the answer large motorcycle manufacturer conglomerates? Only time will tell. Until then, we are sure there are some interesting conversations happening in VW’s boardroom right now.

Source: Speedweek