Cash-strapped Volkswagen Thinking of Dropping Ducati: Report

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
cash strapped volkswagen thinking of dropping ducati report

After history’s largest and most expensive automotive scandal forced a sudden pivot at Volkswagen Group — from expansion-minded to profit-focused — the German automaker might let go of a cherished toy.

According to insider sources who spoke to Reuters, VW is exploring the sale of Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati as part of a company-wide streamlining effort. After shoveling over $20 billion to the United States in a bid to end its diesel debacle, the company is in full penny-pinching mode.

The revered boutique motorcycle company was a long-awaited feather in ex-VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s hat, but after just five years of ownership, it may be time for Ducati to find a new home.

Two sources claim VW has hired investment banking firm Evercore to look at money-saving options, including a Ducati sell-off. This shouldn’t come as a major shock. One year ago, the company admitted in its annual earnings report that unexpected expenses could lead to a sell-off of one or more of its many holdings. (The brief mention was subsequently downplayed by VW’s chief financial officer.)

While no decision has been made on the divestment, VW has already reached out in search of potential buyers, the sources claim.

Volkswagen Group’s Audi brand purchased Ducati for just under $1 billion in 2012, 18 years after Piëch, a motorcycle enthusiast, passed on an earlier chance. Ducati began manufacturing its own motorcycles in 1950 after first selling small engines for bicycle conversions. The company was founded in 1926 as a radio component manufacturer.

In recent decades, Ducati became something of a foster child. After being sold to Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva in 1985, the brand fell under the control of private equity firm TPG Capital in the late 1990s. The following decade, it changed hands again, this time to Investindustrial Holdings.

Both VW and Audi refused to comment on the report. Should the company decide to let the storied brand go, it could prove a lucrative move — one of the sources estimates Ducati’s value at 1.5 billion euros ($1.63 billion), 15 times what the sportbike builder earns every year.

[Image: Audi AG]

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  • Bikegoesbaa Bikegoesbaa on Apr 27, 2017

    Bah to Ducati. Was fixing to buy a Hypermotard before I learned they use un-warranted timing belts because "tradition".

    • See 2 previous
    • Tylermattikow Tylermattikow on Apr 28, 2017

      @bikegoesbaa In the late 2000's Ducati vastly increased service intervals in response to these concerns. The Desmo and belt service is at 7500 miles, which is a pretty long time for a bike considering how little most are ridden. I believe the interval used to be 4500... For the record my bike only had one issue, a faulty immobilizer when it was nearly new. It now has 6500 miles and it is 8 years old with no other problems.

  • Markf Markf on Apr 27, 2017

    Yeah, timing belt and Desmo valves "Tradition" Ducati is a lifestyle brand, like every guy on a Harley every Ducati rider has branded clothing on when they ride. But they can't make enough of them. I'll stick with Aprilia, Italian bikes, reliable and much less than Ducati. Just hard to find dealers and get proper service.....

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂