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Are KTM sizing up Ducati?

The Austrian firm’s CEO has expressed an interest in the Italian brand

IN AN INTERVIEW with the German news outlet, Speedweek, Stefan Pierer has spoken about how the Ducati brand is the only “the only brand that would fit us [KTM]”

Pierer took the reigns at KTM in 1992 when the firm had just 150 employees and 6000 bikes sold. The firm now employs around 5000 staff, owns WP suspension and Husqvarna, there’s no denying that’s a meteoric turnaround in a company’s fortunes.

When asked about whether the twin cylinder KTMs can survive in a world where even Ducati’s have moved to a V4 configuration, Pierer said. “To be able to offer a three-cylinder, Triumph would have to come to our group, which I exclude, as much as my Indian partner [Bajaj] makes an effort  [to buy Triumph]. The four-cylinder is now a Ducati theme, with Ducati already coming under pressure.

“I have an emotional relationship with Ducati," Peirer said. "Ducati is Ducati, there's nothing to shake about that. The only brand that would fit us is Ducati. Everything else you can forget. MV Agusta is too small”

The matchup may seem far-fetched but there are already links between the Austrians and the bikes from Bologna, Ducati’s current owner, Audi, already supply the engines for KTM’s track day toys, the X-Bow. The German car building giant added Ducati to their business portfolio in 2011 and paid a reported 740 million euros for the company.

When quizzed if KTM could stump up the cash he said. “Audi may soon have other priorities than a motorcycle plant due to the diesel affair and e-mobility. Ducati is the Ferrari of the motorcycle industry. Of course, having such a brand in our group would be interesting. It is not a question of price, but it is about the topic: When does everyone realize in which situation he is. New homologation challenges await us - for example, we have Euro 5. In 2024, the issue of noise will come up. It is also in the demographic development in Europe. Today you have to go to Asia with the motorcycle business, to India. If you are not successful there, you will eventually be gone. Ducati is not concerned with the purchase price, but with the question: 'How can I become stronger together?' Time will tell…"

Whatever the outcome, Pierer has big plans for KTM as he strives to make the firm the third-biggest motorcycle maker behind Honda and Yamaha by 2020. Given the turnaround in fortunes the CEO has overseen already, you wouldn’t bet against him hitting, or even succeeding that goal.

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