Audi has agreed to purchase thoroughbred Italian motorcycle maker Ducati for about $1.12 billion. Ducati, which has won 13 rider’s Superbike World Championships since 1988, will increase the VW group’s brand portfolio to 12, and extend Audi’s long-standing rivalry with BMW to motorcycles. VW chairman Ferdinand Piech has long coveted Ducati, and owns one of their superbikes.
Audi claims that the progressive control systems, special combustion chamber process, and sporty character of Ducati engines, and Ducati’s extensive know-how in lightweight construction, offer great potential for Audi AG and its parent company, the Volkswagen Group.
Ducati has manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Bologna and at its own factory in Thailand. The company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. It initially built parts for radios, venturing into the manufacture of motorcycles in 1949.
Ducati makes about 42,000 bikes a year across its range of cruiser, supermoto, adventure, naked, and superbikes. By comparison, industry leader Honda sold over 16 million motorcycles last year.