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Ducati Motor Holding

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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.

“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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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.

Done and dusted, the EICMA show in Milan is the biggest trade event in the motorcycle industry, and each year we see dozens and dozens of machines debut in Italy, with much fanfare.

With the bevy of new model releases that occur though, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. So, we are going to break down the big headlines and moments from this new bike season for you, starting with one of our most talked about brands: Ducati.

Ducati traditionally starts off the EICMA festivities, hosting a pre-event somewhere in Milan days before EICMA. The day of this launch seems to get pushed back further and further each year, as other brands have jockeyed for position, and so this year's pre-event event was held on the Sunday before EICMA.

To its credit, Ducati does EICMA right, and the Italian company has honed to perfection the balance between of hosting a live event for gathered press and VIPs that is also suitable and entertaining enough to be broadcast live on Italian TV and across the internet.

The EICMA show unveiling might be geared now for mainstream consumption, but for those in the industry there are still some valuable inferences to learn from what is said...and what isn't said.

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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.

More doom and gloom for the motorcycle industry, as Ducati Motor Holdings sales are slumping for the 2018 model year. Selling 32,250 motorcycles so far this year, the Italian brand is short 7.4% the volume it sold this time last year.

To translate unit sales into fiat currency, the 32,250 motorcycles sold equals €448 million in revenue going into Audi’s coffers. Of note, Ducati’s revenue contribution to Audi AG accounts for 1.4% of the automaker’s total revenue.

For the second quarter of this year, Ducati sales were down 8.9% compared to Q2 2017. This means that 20,319 Ducati motorcycles were sold in Q2 2018, compared to the 22,300 sold in Q2 2017.

After yesterday’s news of BMW Motorrad’s modest 1.3% sales drop for 2017, today we have another brand reporting its year sales: Ducati Motor Holding.

Like BMW, Ducati’s sales figures from last year didn’t move the needle much, with the Italian brand showing only 0.7% gain over the previous sales cycle. In total, Ducati delivered 55,871 bikes to customers worldwide, compared to the 55,451 units it sold in 2016.

This marks Ducati’s eighth year of positive sales growth, but over the past two years we have seen that growth crawling almost to a halt, as the Bologna Brand has run out of new markets to develop, and new segments to pursue.

Bigfoot. Nessie. Roswell…these are the great myths of our time. In the motorcycle industry, we can add another one to the list: a scooter from Ducati. It has been often talked about in enthusiast and media circles, and it has often been denied by Ducati’s higher-ups.

Today we get some news from Ducati that a scooter is on the way, and more, as Edouard Lotthé (Managing Director of Ducati Western Europe) confirmed not only a Ducati scooter project, but also Ducati’s electric future, in an interview with France’s Moto-Station.

We have already reported on how Ben Spies is trying to put together a superbike comeback, with an eye on the 2018 MotoAmerica Championship. There is a long road from here to there though, and the biggest hurdle for the American road racer is finding a ride.

Our Paddock Pass Podcast colleague Neil Morrison has some news on that though, and as he reported on Crash.net, Spies could be looking to Ducati for support on his return to motorcycle racing.

Talking to Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti, Morrison (that handsome devil) reports that Ducati is prepared to help the Texan…if he can foot the bill.

A bit of news that has gone under the radar: at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman Matthias Muller dropped a bombshell, saying that the German company’s house of brands would all have a fully electrified lineup of vehicles by 2030 – at the latest.

The initiative is called Roadmap E, and while Volkswagen is focusing mostly on it automotive holdings, the Germans have made obvious signs that they are including their Italian motorcycle company, Ducati, in this push to go electric.

The most obvious indication comes from the company’s press statement. In it, the Volkswagen Group says that by 2030 “there will be at least one electrified version of each of the 300 or so Group models across all brands and markets.”

A couple days ago, we told you that Ducati would be making the updated electronics package on the 2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale, called DTC EVO, available to 2015 and 2016 Panigale owners.

The software update lets the Panigale take full-advantage of the inertial measurement unit (IMU) that is onboard, letting the traction control not only manage wheelspin, as it does on the 2015 and 2016 models, but also allowing it to control how much rear-wheel slide is allowed, as on the 2017 machine.

While DTC EVO is standard on the 2017 model, the software wasn’t developed in time for the earlier 1299 Panigale models. Thankfully, it is an easy feature to add retroactively. Unthankfully though, Ducati is charging a pretty penny for the update: $565 MSRP.