Ducati has changed hands more times than Hugh Hefner has switched bunnies at the Playboy Mansion

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It seems that Ducati is already up for sale, around 5 years after VW Group’s Audi bought it for 1.12bn euro. The question is who will buy it? Ducati has changed hands more than Hugh Hefner has switched bunnies at the Playboy Mansion. In September 2000, when I initiated a stock report on Ducati the company had around 40,000 unit sales per annum. In 2017 it is around 60,000. 50% growth in 17 years is hardly an achievement but at the very least it is consistently profitable. I suggested to Harley-Davidson that they buy the brand when it was in its troubled years and inject its marketing magic. Ducati has decent product and apparel but it lacks the pure steam roller marketing muscle of Harley.

Harley has dabbled in sports via the Buell brand but it failed due to the minuscule unit sales. Ducati makes sense in that it provides a brand that clashes with none of its models and runs the opportunity for some platform and parts sharing.

VW-Audi is not selling Ducati to fill a gaping hole left by Dieselgate, rather it is a brand which they have got pricing massively wrong. My local Ducati dealer said things changed dramatically when Audi took over. What they are doing is pricing the products (especially the parts) at such ridiculous levels that it would cause many buyers to back down. It was confirmed by another Ducati dealer in my recent trip to Tohoku that despite the new products he doesn’t think Ducati will do as well as BMW.

While we might see the likes of the Chinese or Indians (note Bajaj owns 49% of Europe’s largest motorcycle brand, KTM) it would make sense for a Suzuki Motor which has been struggling desperately in the motorcycle market. Suzuki needs mojo in its products and getting some diversity of thought might be just the ticket after decades in the wilderness.

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