The recent marketing tie-up between Mercedes-AMG and Italian superbike manufacturer Ducati could result in AMG-badged two-wheelers and even a full-blown takeover of the motorcycle maker, according to inside sources.
AMG is, however, unlikely to make any move for a couple of years, while the tie-up “takes its first baby steps”, according to one senior source.
Officially, AMG and Ducati will only say that they are “currently examining further activities and strategic steps they might undertake together in the near future”.
But insiders refused to rule out “high performance” AMG/Ducati motorcycles in the medium term as part of the planned “greening” of the AMG brand.
A number of car makers, including Mini, Smart, Renault, Nissan and BMW, have moved towards offering two-wheelers or scooter-derived vehicles.
The trend is seen as a way of capturing both younger people who are unlikely to buy a new car until they are in their early 40s and offering branded and premium two-wheel mobility in the booming ‘megacities’ of developing nations.
Sources at the Italian company told Autocar that they thought it likely that AMG would eventually buy the motorcycle maker. One insider hinted that many in Ducati would willingly become part of a larger conglomerate because of the huge advantages in terms of investment and access to new technology.
Currently, Ducati is owned by the investment arm of an Italian family and sold around 35,000 motorcycles last year. The initial tie-up plans will see the two companies “developing common marketing activities” and AMG will also sponsor the Ducati MotoGP team.
Ahead of any move into the smallest type of personal transport, AMG is planning to launch its own version of next year’s new Mercedes C-class coupe.
The company is also at work on an AMG model based on one of Mercedes’ upcoming new front-drive A- class and B-class family vehicles, with a version of the F800 compact saloon the current favourite for the AMG treatment.Hilton Holloway