It looks as if Audi bought VW Chairman Piech a present for his 75th birthday.
In the convoluted conglomerate which is the Volkswagen Group, their Audi brand is responsible for their advanced technology image. It is not by coincidence but by design. Ferdinand Piech, who revived the brand during his period at Audi in the 1970s and '80s, strongly emphasized technology development and application. And now, just before the Volkswagen Group's annual general meeting in Hamburg in which Herr Piech's tenure as Chairman will be extended by another five year period, Audi announced their birthday present to him.
They have just officially announced their purchase of the Italian Motorcycle maker, Ducati for $1.1 billion. Piech has always had a long time admiration for the Latin automotive industry. For example, he bought Lamborghini and Bugatti (the latter is a French brand but created by an Italian artisan). Two years ago VW bought the famous Italian design house, ItalDesign and a year ago he sought to buy Alfa Romeo. In Piech's private garage there are at least two Ferraris, a brand even he doesn't dare dream of buying. And now Ducati will become VW's delegate in the two-wheel world.
Last year Ducati sold 42,000 motorcycles and Audi expects sales to increase even further in the next few years, particularly in Asia. In addition, Ducati is renowned for "outstanding expertise in engine development and lightweight construction," of which Audi hopes to take advantage for future cars. In buying Ducati, Audi joins automakers such as Honda, BMW and Suzuki who also do motorcycles. Audi also shouldn't be oblivious to Ducati's longstanding motorsport involvement and its multiple achievements.
In the last few years, however, MotoGP Ducati, with the great Valentino Rossi leading the team, has been humiliated time and again by their Japanese opponents. Here lies Audi's first challenge: make Rossi satisfied from his mount. Photos displayed are of the Ducati Superbike 848EVO.