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In a terse press release this morning, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) announced that it has acquired select assets of Alta Motors’ parent company Faster-Faster, Inc.

Those assets include “certain intellectual property, patents and some limited physical assets from the former all-electric motorcycle design and manufacturing company,” to put it in BRP’s words.

BRP plans to use these assets as part of its ongoing research into electric and hybrid drives for recreational vehicles, and hopes that the technology will help jumpstart its own efforts for electric transportation products.

The Canadian company is very quick to point out, however, that BRP has no interest in restarting operations of Alta Motors and assumes no liabilities.

Motorcycle racing is a profitable business, it turns out. The leading UK financial paper Financial Times reported yesterday that Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm that owns Dorna, among many other assets, has hit upon a relatively novel way of paying out investors, by transferring the roughly 40% of Dorna that it owns between one Bridgepoint fund and another. 

The proposed sale is a result of a review carried out by merchant bankers Lazard at the end of last year, with the aim of fixing a value and finding potential buyers. According to the FT, several private equity firms expressed an interesting in buying Bridgepoint’s stake, including former owners CVC. 

Here is some interesting automotive news for you that has bearing over our two-wheeled world, as CNN is reporting that more Americans are behind on their car loans than ever before.

The news accounts for two trends that we are seeing in the United States. One, the decline of automobile ownership; and two, the rising debt load amongst citizens, especially millennial buyers.

What this translates into the car world – namely that buyers are increasingly defaulting on their auto loans – likely bears the same reality in the motorcycle industry, since so many motorbikes are bought through financed payment schemes.

When it comes to sales figures for 2018, it is a good news / bad news type of situation for Ducati Motor Holding.

This is because the Italian brand sold 53,004 motorcycles to customers last year, which is a 5% drop from 2017’s figures, and ends an eight-year growth streak for the brand. That’s the bad news.

The good news though is that Ducati claimed the title as the top superbike brand in the world, with 9,700 Panigale models sold in 2018. This marks a 70% increase over the 2017 figures, thanks largely to the new Panigale V4 model.

 Today’s headline is all about Moody’s upgrading Piaggio’s credit rating to “Ba3” – up from its previous “B1” rating.

I understand that financial credit rating systems aren’t exactly your typical fare on a motorcycle news site, so stay with me here for a minute.

The basic gist is that moving from a B1 rating to a Ba3 rating takes Piaggio beyond the threshold of being “highly speculative” investment opportunity to “non-investment grade” business in the eyes of investors.

BMW Motorrad has released its yearly figures for 2018, and the report is mostly positive. Sales worldwide were up a very modest 0.9% for the year (165,566 in total unit sales), and this does mean that 2018 was the German company’s eighth year in row of growth.

The news was good for BMW Motorrad USA as well, with the American subsidiary showing a 2.2% bump in sales (13,842 units) compared to 2017, thanks primarily to the company’s introduction of the K1600 Grand America.

KTM has been on a phenomenal track for the past eight years, seeing record set each successive annum.

Part of the secret sauce to that success has been KTM’s partnership with KISKA, the Austrian design firm that is largely responsible for making KTM’s bikes look good, both in real life and in the media.

As KTM ramps up its lineup of two-wheelers, and continues to push into new markets and segments, the motorcycle manufacturer is looking to secure its stake is KISKA, announcing plans to take its ownership position from 26% to 50%.

2018 is coming to a close now, so we of course are looking back at what happened over the past year in the motorcycle industry.

There was no shortage of weighty stories in 2018, so we picked just our Top 5 big themes from the year to share with you.

They range from business items, racing news, and new motorcycles (or the lack thereof). Without too much fanfare, let’s get into it, and see Asphalt & Rubber‘s most important stories from 2018.

“We have to look which is the best ownership for Ducati. Either we find a way forward for Ducati, which provides some growth, some probably additional brands, or we have to look for new ownerships...I wouldn’t exclude that.”

Ever since Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said those words, I have been perseverating on their meaning. Many in the industry have taken Herr Diess to mean that Ducati is once again for sale, and that Ducati's time within Audi AG is coming to an end.

As Diess says himself, we can't exclude that possibility. But, what about the part of his statement that proceeds that notion?

How does one make Ducati Motor Holding more profitable? More sustainable? Better suited for the trends we are seeing in the motorcycle industry? In the changing world that transportation is facing?

How does the Italian company fit into all those questions marks, and more? This is the thought that has been burning a hole on my notepad recently, and I keep coming back to Diess' thought that Ducati should have some additional brands.

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After what has been a very difficult year for Aprilia’s effort in MotoGP, the Noale factory is to shake up its racing department.

Current Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano is to be moved sideways to concentrate on the technical side of the racing program, while Massimo Rivola, former Ferrari F1 team boss and head of Ferrari Driver Academy, will take over as CEO of Aprilia Racing.

The move is a response to the difficulties Aprilia has faced since making a full-time return to MotoGP.

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.