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Audi to Sell Ducati to Fund VW Dieselgate Losses?

Reuters is reporting that Volkswagen is considering the sale of Ducati, which is currently owned by Volkswagen subsidiary Audi.  Audi acquired Ducati in 2012 for close to one billion dollars.

The desire to sell Ducati, again according to the Reuters report, is “to help fund a strategic overhaul following its emission scandal.” For context, Volkswagen violated diesel emissions laws in multiple jurisdictions leading to a multi-billion Euro outlay to fund litigation and fines.

The Reuters report indicates there could be a number of potential buyers, but that VW is just in early, investigatory stages with regards to a potential sale.  Ducati has developed itself into a profitable and more diverse brand of late.  It will be interesting to see whether other established motorcycle brands take an interest in acquiring the legendary Italian marque.

82 Comments

  1. Trpldog says:

    Lorenzo riding for minimum wage now? I think it’s $16 an hour here in California.

  2. allword says:

    I would like to see Ferrari take over the ownership.
    Not Geely.

  3. Allansb says:

    Like some of you, I also don’t see what VAG would get out of selling Ducati, unless they don’t see it as a core asset. I was surprised that they didn’t start selling Ducatis at Audi shops, which would have expanded their dealer network. It would have really helped in some areas.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Like some of you, I also don’t see what VAG would get out of selling Ducati”

      see, Allan gets it.

  4. Grover says:

    The 35 BILLION In penalties VW has to pay is a bit steep, don’t you think? It would have made more sense to put the decision makers of this mess behind bars (as an example to others) and let that be final. Absolutely ridiculous judgement that affects a lot of workers jobs, not to mention the future of Ducati.

    • Dave says:

      Re: ” It would have made more sense to put the decision makers of this mess behind bars (as an example to others) and let that be final.”

      First, you would have to reorganize corporate law. The individuals who chose this are shielded by corporate immunity. The amounts of money and public consequences are mind boggling. That nothing can be done (they own the government) to punish them is well, becoming expected…

  5. Kyle says:

    I want to care but Ducati North America’s 1 star rating won’t let me.

    • Artem says:

      Won’t let you to do what?
      US are HD country.
      And that is solid and good.

      • Mick says:

        Though you have to first accept HD product as viable product. At 55, I still have no interest in them. I have nothing against them. They just don’t interest me.

      • Kyle says:

        I mean I love Ducatis when I see them on the road, but I would never buy one because they are just like my KTMs maintenance wise and unreliable wise. If I wanted a Ducati Monster, I would buy a Suzuki SV650.

        And I would never consider a HD and will stop wasting brain cells on that topic now.

  6. Troy F Collins says:

    I personally think the Fiat group should not let Ducati slip through their fingers this time…..its Italian and it belongs in Italy in a long line of historic marques

    Are to listening Marchionne ?

  7. Tom R says:

    What a surprise/shock/revulsion/epiphany it would be if a company from India acquired Ducati. Don’t discount this possibility. They currently are doing pretty well with Jaguar and Land Rover, have aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons, and BMW, Triumph, and Harley-Davidson are in cahoots with them.

    It would be unusual if some entity from Indian was not already considering acquiring Ducati.

  8. downgoesfraser says:

    About 35 billion in penalties and they paid a little over a bill for Ducati.

  9. Artem says:

    Sorry for posting, but think that thing is cool:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVnNiU1HOe8

  10. Artem says:

    Ducati is not as legendary as MV or Gilera.
    In fact, I thought it was Gilera “Four”. Then it was obvious,
    that “Gilera” engine designer Pietro Remora just walk away to
    MV with blueprints because he was not ablle to cooperate with racers.

  11. Artem says:

    Ducati sales are not that good.

  12. Tom R says:

    So, no pending diesel Ducati models I assume?

  13. austin zzr 1200 says:

    Lets face it, pure-play motorcycle companies are a risky investment (unless its Zero). Think of how many brands have been sold/killed off in the last 5 years

  14. Ricardo says:

    Here we go again! this puts Ducati at risk one more time. Hopefully a good new owner takes it as this is one of the best and more recognizable brands with great bikes.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Hopefully a good new owner takes it”

      PIAGGIO…

      welcome back Gigi, just when you thought you had defected…? here you are on the payroll.

      (hint, not the worst pairing by a long shot. Ducati gets a twin spar that works and Aprilia gets a dealer network that works to finally retail the brand properly)

  15. Vrooom says:

    While the Ducati brand in general is doing well, growing, with racing success in WSB and GP recently, I have to wonder how a buyer with less resources can maintain that. Few will have the resources VW did, at least before the Diesel scandal became public.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Most buyers are going to expect Ducati to maintain itself while also appreciating in value. The company is probably in a position to do just that.

    • Tom R says:

      Apparently VW no longer has the resources to keep it.

  16. Norm G. says:

    re: “Audi to Sell Ducati to Fund VW Dieselgate Losses?”

    or KEEP IT in a “buy and hold” scenario to fund various and sundry Dieselgate losses. lest we forget (properly leveraged) the DMH entity itself is an “economic engine” by which profits are GENERATED.

    Q: does one have to be a CPA to figure out this is the better long-term strategy…?

    A: no.

    anything else would be like BMW AG selling Motorrad, or Honda divesting itself from Goldwings (NOT GONNA HAPPEN CAP’N). rewind back the hands of the clock to 1916 and 1946 respectively to examine the historical record, and we quickly discover we would likely not know from either of these concerns if it were not FOR motorbikes.

    re: “Volkswagen violated diesel emissions laws”

    yeah they did, and along with it the myth of “German Engineering”…

    BUSTED.

    (ps, between using my smartphone and this thread, the strain of reading “tiny text” has now used up what remaining eyesight Norm had left, thus he is now legally BLIND. for the love all that is holy somebody get the man a service dog…!!!)

  17. Neal says:

    Ducati is the strongest it’s ever been: broad product portfolio, cutting edge technologies, widespread brand respect and recognition. It’s not clear to me how much of that is due to VW ownership but if VW wants to sell it off I don’t think Ducati will suffer for it.

    • Gary says:

      My sense is Ducati has has been struggling in recent years. Like so many Italian marques, they are becoming a boutique brand.

      • Fast2win says:

        Ducati is not struggling

      • Dave says:

        They’re going the opposite direction. They were always a boutique brand and they’re closer to mainstream than ever before. That started with the Monster line.

    • Daytona James says:

      A lot has gone into that strength… not the least of which was the intro of 24Kkm valve servicing. A vastly expanded product offering has also brought them closer to the sales of the mainstream and their ‘elite’ rep is still intact. I do wish they and other similar Euro brands (eg. T-r-i-u-m-p-h) would get their noses out of their proverbial butts. To say the hoops a dealer network is forced to jump through to obtain / maintain these brand(s) is daunting, is the epitome of understatement. I get that these marques exist to make money… but let’s face it… poop stinks. if the heads of these companies would offer better incentives for the growth of their dealer network, they would… grow. Ramming corporate agenda ($$$ showroom decor & unwieldy programs) down the throats of those you partner with to sell your product only promotes an image of snobbery and keeps a reign on sales volumes. IMHO.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        As you said, the elite rep is still intact. Perhaps those hoops the dealers are jumping through play a part in that.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Ramming corporate agenda ($$$ showroom decor & unwieldy programs) down the throats of those you partner with to sell your product only promotes an image of snobbery and keeps a reign on sales volumes.”

        therein lies the rub, Triumph and BMW do not see you as a “partner”. that term is just a clever ruse to throw you off (and it does) no these co’s see their franchisees as entities to be FLEECED. now if you want to see a company in the “niche business of motorcycling” that more closely sees you as the textbook definition of a “partner”…?

        (wait for it)

        YAMAHA.

        • Tim C says:

          Which is ironic, since Yamaha is in “niche” businesses from musical instruments to bikes to electronics/stereo….

          In other words hardly a niche company! In other words I actually get Norm and his “””” for once.

          (Disclaimer: I own both a Yamaha bike and one of their integrated amps. I find both to punch through their price point and deliver the goods quite nicely.)

      • Dave says:

        Re: “Ramming corporate agenda ($$$ showroom decor & unwieldy programs) down the throats of those you partner with to sell your product only promotes an image of snobbery and keeps a reign on sales volumes. IMHO.”

        It’s exactly the opposite, actually. Most motorcycle dealerships aren’t examples of a “premium” dealer/retail experience, which is critical to the success of a premium brand. The dealers who succeed with these brands aren’t being forced to invest, they’re asking for these things. Ducati/Truimph/BMW are asking dealers to employ practices that work and 9 times out of 10, if a dealer follows these practices, they succeed. If they don’t well, they don’t.

        Ask yourself this, would you buy a shiny new $20k Ducati out of a dirty, disorganized pole-barn?

      • Grover says:

        How did they achieve 24k valve check intervals? Did they alter the desmo system? Utilize some unobtainium in the valves or seats? Or just pencil whip the the longer lash period into the manual? I think Ducati has a lot of splainin’ to do.

  18. Butch says:

    Back to the small print, I see.
    What happened ?

  19. Dave Joy says:

    If this is true it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Ducati marque purchased by a motorcycle company from India. They are becoming a very strong competitor in the industry and what better than to add a famous name to their products. Companies such as Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Yamaha, Triumph and BMW already have motorcycles manufactured or assembled there so why not Ducati…built AND owned by an Indian company?

    • SF848 says:

      No, just no. I can see the appeal in creating a “entry level” Ducati, which is what BMW, KTM, Honda, etc have done with their manufacturing in India. But to promote Ducati as “Made in India”…that is blasphemy on so many levels.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “If this is true it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Ducati marque purchased by a motorcycle company from India.”

      or even more likely the Chinese.

      good point, either of these scenarios COULD happen. though i suspect Italian nationalism will intervene long before this occurs.

  20. Paul says:

    Dirck: Great job with this story on Ducati. You are the first I’ve seen to provide this information. The Suzuki 1000 GSXR intro and the Ducati story this week are great examples of why Motorcycledaily is required reading. May we please have the follow up interview on the Kawasaki Z900 designer from 6+ weeks ago???

  21. Stuki Moi says:

    Maybe Pierer can buy them, like he did (infinitely smaller and cheaper to acquire, but still..) Husqvarna 🙂 Perhaps along with his partner Rajiv Bajaj.

    Would certainly speed up KTMs MotoGP learning curve. And get them right into the mix in WSB as well. Not bad for neither the “Ready to race” gang. Nor for the primo shining star in perhaps the world’s largest rapidly growing motorcycle market. Where yesterday’s cheap transportation, is giving way to tomorrows high end, at an ever more dizzying pace.

    • GKS says:

      The only thing that Pierer Industries bought was the Husqvarna name, just like Polaris/Indian. They then used the KTM parts bin to produce the current Huqvarna line. The old Italian Husqvarna designs and tooling were all sold off.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Doubt he would sell of the Italian designs and tooling if he were to buy Ducati…..

        Still can’t help but think Pierer/Bajaj would b e good stewards for Ducati. Just like Husqy on the dirt side, Ducati for street bikes are just as high end and “European” as KTM. Yet appeals to a very different sort of demographic, than the Agression Uber Alles image that KTM has cultivated on both dirt and street. And for Bajaj, India and South Asia is the future of motorcycling. Demographics dictate that. And while I have no doubt the Indian brands could develop their own Ducati over time, why bother reinventing every wheel?

  22. Bart says:

    If a new owner stops Ducati from designing bikes with beaks I’m all for it.

  23. John says:

    Rare typo by MD on the headline spelling of “Dieselgate” maybe?

    Sorry – someone had to be the p.i.a..

    Keep up the great work Dirck, this is one page I open EVERY day.

    John @Downunder

  24. highspeedhamish says:

    Considering that the fine was 10’s of billions , I dont think Ductown is worth even 10 billion let alone more. I think they paid close 1.27B in the first place for the company.

    And also, VW’s gross for 2015(?) was close to 300 BILLION. (Thats all of the companies combined).

    So I would say, if they are selling it off (again) then its because they cant be bothered with it anymore.

    And like Matt G stated, VW was probably the best company to own it and move the brand forward. I guess they are the Italian version of Buell/EDR.

  25. mickey says:

    They should sell it to Harley and then later buy it back plus a butt load of cash for $1.00

    • Fred M. says:

      Selling to Harley may not be as crazy as it sounds. Ducati and Harley are both well-established brands with massive followings and both generate huge sums of money merchandising “lifestyle” clothing and accessories. That’s what makes Ducati a better fit for Harley than Buell or MV Agusta was.

      • randy says:

        That would be a boost. Unfortunately, Harley isn’t ready to face the fact that their profit base is ageing (like their riders). They have proven (with Buell/MV) they’re not willing to sacrifice ANYTHING for a couple percentage points of profit. They’re using a Wall Street playbook. Instant high profit return or panic.

        • Provologna says:

          In the 80s/90s, San Francisco’s City Bike newspaper wrongly predicted many times HD’s soon demise based on aging demographics.

  26. Matt G says:

    I would really hate to see this happen. VW was in an excellent position to do great things for Ducati in the way of engineering support and product development. I would be concerned that a new owner might allow that progress to stagnate in the name of quick returns.

    • Tim C says:

      I’m curious how much Ducati really needs VW/Audi for this though. Their engineering seems pretty good really. Any examples of stuff they’ve gotten out of the the VAG ownership so far?

      • Richard says:

        Money!!!!

      • mickey says:

        Lorenzo’s salary?

      • VLJ says:

        “VAG ownership”

        In! – VR46 “WLF”

      • Larry Kahn says:

        From what I’ve seen VAG ownership is more trouble than it’s worth…

      • SF848 says:

        I do not doubt Ducati’s in house engineering. However, I would not belittle VW’s expertise and technological preeminence, especially in modularity. Remember, this is the same company that stymied even the Japanese automakers with how modular their vehicles are across different models. We have seen this translate very well with Ducati, as they have settled on a handful of engines over their entire, very diverse model range (and that holds for numerous other parts that are cross-shared as well that I am not aware of).

        • JSH says:

          While VW already has a small number of engines for their cars but they are going to slim it down even more. Their CEO just announced that they will reduce the number of engines in their vehicles by 40% by 2020.

          • mickey says:

            Doesn’t Subaru basically use the same engine for all their cars?

          • JSH says:

            Subaru uses 3-4 engines for the cars they sell in the USA. However, they are a niche automaker that only make about 1 million vehicles worldwide. (Likely to be purchased soon as they don’t have the economy of scale to compete.)

            VW is the largest manufacturer in the world, selling 10 million vehicles, across 8 brands. They are planning on using about 30 engines to cover everything from a VW Polo to a Lamborghini Aventador.