The Clash’s hit song “Should I Stay, Or Should I Go” might perhaps perfectly fit the business situation for Ducati, within its parent company, Volkswagen AG.
The Italian motorcycle brand’s status in the German conglomerate has for the past few years been held on a tenuous string. Rumor about its divestiture, its selling to another company, are constantly dogging the iconic brand.
Talking to Bloomberg TV after Volkswagen’s quarterly earnings report, VW CEO Herbert Diess explained that there are two paths forward for Ducati, and one of them includes selling Ducati to the highest bidder.
“We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati,” said Diess to Bloomberg. “Either we find a way forward for Ducati, which provides some growth, some probably additional brands, or we have to look for new ownerships,” he added. “I wouldn’t exclude that.”
While one plan would be to take Ducati – which Diess describes as the most valuable motorcycle brand in the world – and sell it to another company, the other option is much more intriguing.
Diess ideates that for Ducati to continue to be successful under Volkswagen ownership, the motorcycle company would have to become a house of brands.
We have seen this strategy tried before in the motorcycle industry, albeit in the Diet Coke version of the principle, with the Scrambler Ducati sub-brand.
Diess seems to think that Ducati (essentially VW’s motorcycle group) could continue to grow by building or acquiring other brands. No longer a single-line two-wheeled business unit, Ducati could find a complimentary brand to build out its motorcycle portfolio.
We have seen this move before, with mixed results and mixed efforts.
Of course, no one can forget the failure that was Buell under Harley-Davidson ownership, though I would argue that the American brand’s ownership of MV Agusta was untested but looked incredibly positive.
KTM employs a similar strategy with Husqvarna, using the Swedish brand to make more premium versions of KTM’s products, and also to explore other designs and segments that are outside of KTM’s typical wheelhouse.
It is MV Agusta though that perhaps shows the way forward for Ducati, with the Italian set to revive the historic Cagiva marque, in order to build electric and off-road focused machines, which will dovetail nicely into MV Agusta’s gas-only sport bike focus.
What will the coming months show for Ducati Motor Holdings? That remains to be seen. The name itself gives some hints, however.
Source: Bloomberg TV