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Audi adds Ducati to its fold

Prestigious Italian motorcycle brand joins the four rings

Published: April 19, 2012, 6:00 AM

Ducati 1199 Panigale S and Audi R8 GT

Confirming rumours that have been afoot for weeks, Audi announced today that it is acquiring the Italian sports motorcycle manufacturer, Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A., which has its registered office in Bologna. 

The Supervisory Boards of AUDI AG and Volkswagen AG have now approved the acquisition, triggering the much-awaited announcement. The transaction will be completed as quickly as possible once authorized by the relevant competition authorities. 

Ducati is well known worldwide as a leading motorcycle brand in motorcycle manufacture, with particular expertise in engine development and lightweight construction.  It is now the third Italian company to come under the Audi umbrella, along with Italdesign and Lamborghini. 

Audi also noted that Ducati is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. 

The acquisition of Ducati now gives Audi an established motorcycle brand with which it can compete with BMW's Motorad, although the two do not have directly competitive product lines. 

Perhaps even more important, it gives Audi, and the rest of the Volkswagen Group, access to the progressive control systems and special combustion chamber process of Ducati engines and the company's extensive know-how in lightweight construction. All of which make it an excellent fit with Audi.

Ducati has manufacturing operations at its headquarters in Bologna and at its own factory in Thailand. It maintains a series of importer companies in strategic markets. 

Audi says experts predict that the motorcycle market will enjoy strong growth over the next few years, especially in Asia. In 2011, Ducati sold around 42,000 motorcycles and generated revenue of some €480 million, employing around 1,100 people.

The company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. Known originally as Società Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati, it initially built parts for radios. It ventured into the manufacture of motorcycles in 1949.

Ducati has been actively involved in motorcycle racing for many decades through its racing division Ducati Corse. Its racing activities are currently focused on the Ducati official factory team in the MotoGP class of the Motorcycle World Championship and in the Superbike World Championship, supporting competitive private teams. Ducati won the manufacturers’ championship in this latter class 17 times in 21 championships and the pilots’ 14 times.