Is Ducati thinking about making a 300cc sport bike? Is it going to do so in India? With Hero MotoCorp? That is the talk of the motorcycle industry today, though this isn’t the first time that this idea has been floated in the two-wheeled rumor mill.
The reason this rumor keeps coming around is that Ducati seems to be one of the last motorcycle brands really to adopt the small-displacement motorcycle strategy.
Motorcycle manufacturers are continuously investing in motorcycle models that would sell well with entry-level riders or in developing nations. This has lead to a boom in motorcycles that that are under 400cc – most of which are produced in Asia, though also sold in the western markets.
Despite Ducati’s continued commitment to staying out of the 300cc displacement category (it does have the 400cc Scrambler Sixty2 though), rumors continue to speculate on this future for the Italian brand, this time with Hero MotoCorp in the picture.
The concept is a simple one: Ducati would partner with Hero MotoCorp to build a premium small-displacement motorcycle, with the Italian brand doing the design and R&D work, while the Indian company would produce the machines.
Talk in India also suggests that Hero MotoCorp will not be partnering with Harley-Davidson, even though the American brand has already signaled its intent to enter the small-displacement space and the Asian markets, with an overseas partner.
That Ducati would partner with Hero MotoCorp is an interesting choice, however, as the Indian company was once a suitor for the Italian brand.
Hero is no stranger to partnerships, of course. Ending a long partnership with Honda in 2010, Hero is now the largest motorcycle manufacturer in India. The Indian company also recently invested and partnered with Erik Buell Racing, though the fruits of that labor were less than ripe.
Could Hero be ready for its next partnership? It certainly seems likely, especially as its competition continues to do so. For Ducati though, the concept might make less sense.
While there certainly is a strong business case for a brand like to Ducati to dip its toe into the small-displacement waters, Ducati’s premium status might do better to stay simply that, premium. You can make an argument for either decision, and it will be interesting to see which way Ducati goes.
What we do know though is that the future of Ducati does not include maintaining the status quo. The company will either evolve from its current position, or be sold by Audi AG. We know this, because Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess told us so.
Source: Indian Auto Blog