After weeks of rumours, it was confirmed at yesterday’s Audi board meeting that the German premium giant will buy the Ducati motorcycle brand from Investindustrial for around £686m as well taking on Ducati’s debts of around £127m.
Most industry analysts are a bit puzzled by the move. OK, Ducati is profitable (around £76m) and makes very healthy margins. And, sure, BMW has its own motorcycle brand as well as Husqvarna. VW Group now encompasses 11 brands, from these high-end motorcycles to MAN heavy trucks.
VW’s autocratic head, Ferdinand Piech, has admitted that he wanted to buy Ducatti previously and regretted missing out on it. But empire building aside, why would VW want to add this tiddler to its operation? Officially, Audi boss Rupert Stadler flagged up the company’s ‘great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction.’
Maybe Audi and VW Group are just happy to have a small-selling two-wheeler brand in the portfolio.
Then again, you just can’t ignore the fact that huge volumes of two-wheelers are sold in Asia Pacific. Globally, the motorcycle market is worth over 80 million units per year. According to recent research, the rise in electric motorbike and scooter sales should be worth an extraordinary 200m units between 2010 and 2016.