Now that the first Ducati 1199 Panigale has rolled out of the door in Bologna, the die is cast, the chips are in play, and our course is set to see if Ducati has created a “massive breach of brand trust and honesty.” The realization of course should be that Ducati’s brand was never in danger with bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, or Diavel. Instead, the danger of serious brand dilution has always rested on how Ducati handled its Superbike line. A failure to produce a two-wheeled machine that is both as striking visually as it is kinetically, could permanently alienate a loyal fan base that has endured a great deal in the past half-decade.
Honda has announced that it will be restarting motorcycle production at its Kumamoto factory as of Monday, March 28th. Initially closing all its facilities in Japan after the devastation caused by the Sendai earthquake, Kumamoto will be one of Honda’s first facilities to re-open in almost two weeks’ time. While the company’s Sayama, Saitama, and Suzuka facilities will remain closed through April 3rd, Honda will make a decision on when to restart production at those locations as that date becomes closer. Honda will continue to make decisions on its operations from this date forth, keeping a close eye on its supply chain and the good of the country as whole as the situation in Japan continues to change and evolve.
Last week Harley-Davidson reached a deal with the leadership at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 176 and the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 760 labor unions, but details on the deal were under wraps until the labor unions’ membership at Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City plant could vote on the deal. Ratifying the seven-year contract, Harley-Davidson will be implementing a new production operating system that is being rolled out across all of Harley’s production facilities, including the Missouri plant.
While Harley-Davidson’s new production system is expected to provide greater flexibility for seasonal and other volume-related production changes, it will also allow for great flexibility in customizing customers’ bikes directly on the assembly line. Harley-Davidson has been touting its H-D1 factory customization service, and this new production system would appear to be the back-end changes necessary to make that program possible. We imagine the union members cared less about this added flexibility in Harley’s production line, and were instead more concerned over the 145 workers who would be moved from full-time positions to flexible positions.
Here’s a cool time-lapse video put together by MCN that follows the 2011 Ducati Diavel power cruiser getting built at Ducati’s Bologna factory. Ducati is currently building 40 Diavel’s per day on its rolling assembly line, but that number is set to increase by 50% in the coming weeks as the Italian company predicts strong sales in the summer months. As was seen last year with the Multistrada 1200, Ducati expects the Diavel to lead the company’s sales in 2011.
After putting Wisconsin on notice that it was shopping around for other places to build its motorcycles, Harley-Davdison has reached a tentative agreement with local labor unions that would keep the Bar and Shield brand in The Cheese State. Harley and union officials have not disclosed the terms of the deal, but both the Harley-Davidson and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are recommending approval of the deal. The terms of the deal are expected to be released next week, so union members can vote on the contract on September 13th.
Ducati has announced that the first 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 has rolled off the assembly line in Bologna, Italy. The white MTS 1200S with Öhlins suspension got the usual Ducati welcome, with champagne toasts and even a “baptizing” ceremony. The first Multistrada 1200S’s are set to be available by April of this year, while the MTS 1200 base model and ABS version should be out later in in May.
The Multistrada 1200 is an important motorcycle for Ducati as it shows the brand extending its mark beyond the performance bike realm, and into the sport-touring class, which is no easy feat considering the adventure bike/sport-touring king, the BMW GS, is the best selling motorcycle in the world. To help battle the GS, Ducati has made the Multistrada 1200 to have an engine with the longest service intervals in Ducati history: 15,000 miles. Photos of the first production Multistrada 1200 after the jump.
The last Buell rolled off the East Troy, Wisconsin assembly line this past November 12th, thus closing the final chapter for the American street bike company. After creating 136,923 motorcycles over the last 26 years, it is a Buell Lightning XB12Scg that will be the last motorcycle to bear Erik Buell’s name.