For one, Harley-Davidson, despite commanding fully half of the heavyweight motorcycle market in the U.S. on it’s own, has struggled in recent years to diversify it’s product line to recruit younger riders while still retaining the religious loyalty of it’s core customers. Buying Ducati might relieve the Motor Company of expanding its product line to appeal to new customers and risk diluting its brand, as Ducati is a brand that already achieves that.
It could also be a pre-emptive play against the rapid rise of Polaris-owned Indian, which has had huge commercial success with its sporty compact cruiser, the Scout. Harley-Davidson has failed to field an affordable, performance-oriented smaller bike that would rival the Scout, but Ducati’s Scrambler would pose more of a threat to Indian’s growth than H-D’s Sportster or Street models.
Alternatively , it could simply be a good investment. Ducati has been firing on all cylinders in recent years, with excellent performance in the global marketplace, driven by double-digit growth in emerging markets and the colossal success of its Scrambler line. Ducati may be a gem caught in a fire sale by VW, which needs desperately to regroup to recover both revenue and it’s reputation – but it’s a gem only a few well-heeled buyers can afford, and Harley-Davidson happens to be one of them. While the motorcycles couldn’t be more different, the two brands do share some fundamental similarities – a high level of prestige and strong brand loyalty, and it certainly wouldn’t look bad for Harley-Davidson to have Ducati in it’s portfolio.
However, this isn’t the Motor Company’s first attempt at acquiring an prestigious Italian motorcycle maker. Many remember it’s acquisition in 2008 of MV Agusta for $109 million – and then it’s shocking move to sell the company back to it’s previous owners for a token amount, essentially giving it back just to unload it after failed marketing attempts and the Great Recession took a toll on its value.
Harley-Davidson has likely learned from its MV Agusta mistake, but regardless, many observers don’t like the prospect of H-D buying Ducati – especially because Ducati is already doing so well on it’s own.
The brand’s huge success in recent years will likely only be interrupted by the ownership change, and the ultimate fear of Ducati fans is that Harley-Davidson will loot the brand’s engineering and design talent to boost it’s own brand, rather than building it up more on it’s own.
But no matter who acquires Ducati, industry analysts and Ducati riders alike seem to be echoing the same opinion – that Ducati is doing so well already, that the very best thing a new owner could do with Ducati is simply: leave it alone! Click Here…