Audi Buys Ducati

After months of speculation, Volkswagen’s Audi unit has acquired the iconic Italian motorcycle maker Ducati from equity owner Investindustrial.

Ducati will be the second high-end auto company under Audi’s belt. Audi already owns luxury car company Lamborghini and said that the Ducati brand will fit perfectly under the Audi roof.

Audi chairman Rupert Stadler, told the Wall Street Journal:

“Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty motorcycles. It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi.”

The details of the deal were not disclosed but an inside source told Reuters earlier this week that Audi was ready to purchase the Italian motorcycle company for about $1.13 billion.

Ducati sold 42,200 motorcycles last year and has a strong presence on the global racing circuit. Ducati has been at the top of the World Superbike world for the last few years with Carlos Checa and motorcycle racing icon Valentino Rossi has been riding a Ducati (with little success) on the MotoGP circuit since last season.

The Ducati brand is a well-known and well-liked brand, but industry experts are having a hard time understanding why Audi would want to add a motorcycle company to its garage. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch-Gladbach, said that Ducati is just a “trophy” for Audi and serves no business purpose. Bergisch-Gladbach, told Reuters:

“I can’t think of a concrete reason for Audi to warrant a business case for buying Ducati… Ducati doesn’t enhance Audi’s business model in any way, it’s just a trophy in the wall cabinet.”