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Ducati CEO Domenicali Talks 899 Panigale, Audi and MotoGP Performance
Following the debut of the new 899 Panigale during Audi‘s presentation at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ducati held a separate, smaller press conference with the motorcycle press at its headquarters in Bologna, Italy, to discuss the new “Supermid” sportbike and the company’s Chief Executive Officer Claudio Domenicali discussed the state of the company after a year under its new ownership.
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“Audi is a stakeholder who wishes to be involved in the technical development of the company and to focus its efforts on product development. Now, a year after the acquisition, it is time to take stock of the initial results and look to the future with a positive and proactive attitude,” says Domenicali. “Ducati achieved record sales in 2011 and again in 2012 when over 44,000 motorcycles were delivered to customers. Despite the current market dip, Ducati have almost equalled those sales for the first six months of 2013 and, with the introduction of new models in the second half of the year, we are expecting positive results.”
While a weak economy has ravaged the motorcycle industry in Europe, Ducati has been able to make gains in other markets including the U.S., where Ducati now sells more motorcycles than it does in Italy. Ducati is also leveraging sales in new emerging markets.
“Positive sales trends are being recorded in emerging markets, such as 66% growth in Thailand, a country where we were not even present three years ago and where we expect to deliver approximately 2,500 motorcycles this year,” says Domenicali. “In Brazil, where we only started to sell motorcycles this year, we are now averaging 100 deliveries to customers per month and in China sales are up 75% on 2012. With 90% of our production now being exported, the US has firmly taken over from Italy as our top market, leading us to believe that our growth trend will continue throughout 2014, repeating the highly positive bottom line figures that we achieved in the past few years.”
Regarding the new 899, Domenicali says Ducati is continuing its tradition of introducing high-performance models like the 1199 Panigale and then applying its technology to more accessible models.
“The 899 Panigale is a prime example of the technological excellence that has traditionally characterized our motorcycles,” says Domenicali. “It is the reward of what we call ‘performance redefined’, a modern, innovative sports motorcycle which uses ground-breaking technology to ingeniously adjust to everyday use. User-friendly, safety-enhanced, and great fun at the same time. A motorcycle as thrilling as only a true Ducati can be. This important concept will carry on into our future production and also our range expansion plans, focusing on the concept of performance that we intend to extend upwards to create even more sophisticated, race-derived models, and downwards to cater for the market of ‘easier’ and more accessible models.”
The 899 Panigale will make its first public appearance at the upcoming MotoGP round at Misano, before arriving at dealerships in October.
Speaking of racing, Domenicali acknowledges the brand is struggling. Ducati’s factory MotoGP riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso are more likely to be seen dueling with the supposedly lower-spec CRT machines instead of the prototypes from Honda and Yamaha.
“As for racing, we certainly cannot claim to be happy with the current results, but our goal is to bridge the gap that currently separates us from the leaders,” says Domenicali. “We are already working on the new Desmosedici for 2014, when we want to be in a position to fight for podium finishes.”