The Italian motorcycle brand Ducati has been on the chopping block for seemingly years. Currently part of the Volkswagen international empire, Ducati has been rumored to be for sale a number of times, including a failed bid from Harley Davidson. KTM CEO Stefan Pierer told German publication SpeedWeek that a Ducati buyout was on the table.
According to Pierer KTMs Indian backer, Bajaj, are looking to add another motorcycle brand to the portfolio, folding in with KTM and Husqvarna. Bajaj has eyes on Triumph, but Pierer is dead set on Ducati. “I have an emotional relationship with Ducati. Ducati is Ducati, there’s nothing to shake about that. The only brand that would fit us is Ducati. Everything else you can forget.” Then going on to namedrop MV Agusta before dismissing the allegedly lesser Italian as too small.
VW AG really only purchased the small motorcycle brand for its name, as Ferdinand Piëch was obsessed with owning prestige nameplates, and hasn’t done much with it since the purchase went through in 2012. Further, with the PR nightmare of putting the dirty diesel affair in the past, and a look to the future with e-mobility, Volkswagen has a lot more on its plate than some small bike maker in far-flung Italy.
Don’t forget, Euro 5 regulations will be a challenge for Ducati to forge solo. And in 2024, European rules might mandate for motorcycle exhaust noise. The motorcycle business is tumultuous, and for these reasons, the KTM CEO is confident he can persuade Audi to release Ducati for a pittance.
Pierer’s current goal is to move KTM (and associated brands) into the position of third largest motorcycle manufacturer, behind Honda and Yamaha. Considering all he’s managed to do with KTM since taking over in the early 1990s, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against him. Take, for example, this impressive statistic from the SpeedWeek report:
Stefan Pierer took over KTM after the bankruptcy in 1992 with 150 employees and 6,000 sold motorcycles. It now employs 5,000 people, has long since bought WP suspension (500 employees) and sells 265,000 motorcycles a year, after buying Husqvarna (from BMW ). He is a man with visions.
A man with visions indeed. Is KTM, and by extension Pierer, ready to become king of the motorcycle world?