At least for now.
Last summer, it sounded like Volkswagen was more serious than ever about selling off its motorcycle division Ducati in order to raise cash following Dieselgate and its associated fines. A few years ago, VW’s Audi division purchased Ducati for around $1.1 billion, and previous estimates put Ducati’s present value somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.8 billion. But now VW has stopped the possible sale, according to Automotive News Europe, due to pressure from powerful Italian labor groups.
The head of one of those unions said to Auto News Europe that “Ducati’s CEO told workers Friday that the VW supervisory board decided to halt the sale process.” This happened when IG Metall, the biggest and most powerful metalworkers’ union in Germany, “helped Ducati workers in their request to remain inside the VW Group which should keep investing in our company.” This now successful effort picked up steam once VW Group began to float offers from five chosen bidders, including Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto. That was in July and the union blowback started soon thereafter. As for VW’s next move, the German automotive giant isn’t commenting.
It could still attempt to sell Ducati, but any future negotiations would need to directly involve the workers’ union as well. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this were to happen, mainly because a Ducati sale would net VW a nice cash reserve to fall back on if necessary. Another long-term issue VW has with Ducati is the fact that there’s little overlap with other VW parts. VW Group cars share platforms and thousands of other components, but motorcycles are not included in that mix. Furthermore, Ducati was actually owned and directly controlled by Audi, VW’s largest profit contributor. A Ducati sale could also benefit Audi with extra cash. Chances are, Ducati’s future under the VW Group umbrella will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future.