Audi acquires Ducati, gains access to motorcycle maker's engineering talents

Consumer Reports News: April 19, 2012 04:08 PM

The past few years have seen the auto industry implode, reorganize, purge brands, strike new partnerships, and gain a new lease on life, with sales this calendar year finally lifting automakers from the dark days of the carpocalypse. Now, we're seeing another new sign of life in Audi acquiring Italian motorcycle company Ducati.

At first blush, this deal may smack of a boutique purchase, such as when BMW and Volkswagen purchased storied British brands Rolls-Royce and Bentley, respectively. But there may be more to this cross-cultural union.

Ducati joins an Audi portfolio that includes Italdesign and Lamborghini, solidifying the automaker's Italian car design credentials. Further, Ducati's experience and reputation is based on building exquisite, high-performance motorcycles, drawing upon many similar engineering disciplines to those premium automakers depend on. In particular, the material science from Ducati in constructing light-weight bikes may translate well into Audi, and the larger Volkswagen Group, as the global automaker seeks smart solutions to enable continued fuel economy improvements.

Our past experience with Ducatis has shown them to be engaging and exhilarating, being nimble, quick, and powerful. But, their ergonomics vary by bike, and the quick throttle response on some models can take some getting used to. Considered by many to represent the exotic end of motorcycle engineering, Ducati may indeed have something to offer Audi.

See our motorcycle and scooter buying advice.

Jeff Bartlett

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