Ducati to Add Premium Bikes to Attract High-End Buyers

Ducati Motor Holding SpA, the motorbike maker owned by Volkswagen AG, will roll out four new motorcycles next year to attract more high-end buyers.

The new bikes will be “premium products as we’re not looking for low cost and low capacity motorcycles,” Chief Executive Officer Claudio Domenicali said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Bologna, Italy. “We are targeting a good but sustainable growth.”

The new offerings from Ducati, whose bikes are owned by actors Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, will include the 899 Panigale, which goes on sale in the U.S. in November with a starting price of $14,995. The new 148-horsepower superbike was unveiled at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt this week. Two additional new models, which “will share the sport value of the brand,” will be shown in Milan in November, the CEO said.

VW, Europe’s biggest automotive group, bought Ducati for 860 million euros ($1.14 billion) last year to enhance the sporty appeal of the Audi brand. The Ingolstadt, Germany-based division, which runs Ducati, has a target of taking the top spot in luxury-auto sales from Bayerische Motoren Werke AG by the end of the decade.

“We are changing the way we think as we are part of a bigger group,” said Domenicali, 47, who has been working at Ducati since 1991 and took over as CEO in April. “Our owner is very passionate about products.”

VW Help

Ducati, the maker of the Monster and Diavel models, sees 2013 sales and profit in line with last year, with deliveries in China, Brazil and Thailand rising more than 50 percent, he said. Ducati posted 2012 revenue of 606 million euros and deliveries of 44,102 motorcycles.

Ducati plans further expansion with the help of VW. The Italian company has started to sells bikes in Argentina, plans to further boost sales in China and will enter the Indian market next year, Domenicali said.

VW’s other Italian assets include the Lamborghini sports-car brand and design and technology firm Italdesign, founded by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who sketched the first Golf hatchback.

“Ducati now has the opportunity to leverage VW’s strength to expand in fast growing countries, such as China and India,” said Gian Primo Quagliano, head of automotive-research company CSP in Bologna, Italy. “Lamborghini’s success story can be seen as a good example for Ducati of an Italian brand developed under the VW group.”

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