VW/Audi Buys Ducati. Why?

2012 Ducati Corse Evo 848SE

Italian motorcycle maker Ducati makes some of the world’s finest motorcycles and superbikes. It’s been doing so since 1926, winning the 2011 World Superbike Championship and 17 other world titles. Their machines are gorgeous.

Audi reportedly will take over the firm today for $1.1 billion—chump change for Volkswagen but another jewel in its trophy quest to own the best, now including Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti. (And nine other brands, including two heavy-duty truck makers—Scania AG and MAN SE.)

Ducati’s revenue is “more than Lamborghini’s and Bugatti’s combined, but to the automotive operations, it’s a mere accessory.” So remarked a Frankfurt-based analyst with IHS Automotive. It’s “strategically insignificant” for Volkswagen, he said.

Volkswagen Führer Ferdinand Piëch is the reason. He’s a motorcycle freak and has been drooling for Ducati since it first went up for auction in 2008. The nominal reason offered is that the buy will now give Audi a chance to go head to head with BMW on motorcycles.

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