It’s been the worst-kept secret in the automotive industry, but now it’s official: luxury automaker Audi
is buying Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati. While details of the sale haven’t officially been disclosed, Reuters
is reporting that Audi paid some 860 million euros ($1.13 billion) for the brand.
Critics say the move makes no sense, as Ducati really doesn’t add to Audi’s current business model. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Automotive Center at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergische-Gladbach, called the purchase “just a trophy in the wall cabinet.”
On the other hand, the purchase does give Audi access to Ducati’s engine technology, which may be adaptable to future small Audi models. It also gives Audi the ability to go head-to-head with BMW in a second market, even if Ducati’s product line doesn’t exactly match the diversity of BMW’s motorcycle division, BMW Motorrad.
Other suitors named over the course of the sale included Daimler, who quickly denied interest
even though AMG has a co-marketing agreement in place with Ducati
, and Fiat heir Lapo Elkann
. Elkann wanted to buy the brand in a fit of nationalistic furor, but didn’t want to pay anywhere near the billion-euro asking price.
In the end, the biggest justification for Audi’s purchase may have been simply that Volkswagen Group’s chairman, Ferdinand Piech, has a passion for the Ducati brand and its designs. When the purchase is finalized, Ducati will become the 12th company in the Volkswagen Group’s portfolio, which now includes everything from supercars to full-size trucks.