VW boss opens the door to Ducati merger

Herbert Diess is looking at all the options for VAG's bike division

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WHEN HERBERT Diess took the reins as VW boss earlier this year there were hopes that his background as a motorcycle fan – and former head of BMW Motorrad – would put an end to rumours of VW plans to sell Ducati. 

But if anything he’s fuelled speculation over Ducati’s future even further.

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Earlier this month, speaking to Bloomberg, he said: “Ducati is probably the most valuable motorcycle brand in the world and I think they have a very good track record, they are growing. But also we have to look at which is the best ownership for Ducati, and either we find real growth potential within the Group – because synergies between bikes and cars are not huge, they’re probably as little as between trucks and cars – so either we find a way forward for Ducati which provides some growth, probably some additional brands, or we have to look for new ownership. I wouldn’t exclude that.”

Now he’s doubled-down on that position in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt. In it he repeats his concerns that there are few synergies between bikes and cars, and says that Ducati needs a plan above and beyond simply being an iconic motorcycle brand.

Specifically, he asks how Ducati can position itself in terms of electric bikes in the future, and wonders how to ensure continued growth. He also says that he can “imagine a merger or partnership with other brands”.

What seems clear is that Diess is increasingly focussed on VW’s core business of building cars, whether they’re VWs, Audis, Bentleys, Skodas or Lamborghinis, and that he’s asking fundamental questions of parts of the VW empire that aren’t directly involved with that core. That means truck maker MAN, engineering firm Renk and, of course, Ducati are still not out of the woods when it comes to being sold.

Meanwhile, Diess himself has recently come under fire with revelations in Der Spiegel that he was aware of VW’s emissions cheating some two months before it came to light. Diess, who joined VW from BMW in 2015 only months before the scandal blew up in September that year, was seen as untainted by the emissions fiasco when he was promoted to the top job at the firm earlier this year.