According to custom bike blogger Cyril Huze, Harley-Davidson is one of the companies lining up to buy Ducati.
Huze doesn’t name the specific origin of his information, citing only “numerous sources.” However, he’s connected enough in the cruiser world that he’s usually right with these predictions. He says bidding for the company is expected to officially begin in July, and that buyout funds are also interested, as well as Indian manufacturing giant Bajaj (one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers).
Huze says Ducati owner Volkswagen (long rumoured to want to sell the motorcycle manufacturer to help ease its financial woes) may not complete the sale before this year’s EICMA show.
If all this talk about Harley-Davidson buying a sportbike manufacturer sounds oddly familiar, that’s because it is: Harley-Davidson bought Italian brands Cagiva and MV Agusta back in 2008, only to sell them in 2010—see Jensen Beeler’s coverage of that deal here at Asphalt & Rubber. That deal saw a lot of ink spilled, with sportbike enthusiasts perplexed and cruiserattis irritated by the idea of the Motor Company working on sportbikes. Similar to Harley-Davidson’s involvement with the ill-fated Buell brand, the move made nobody happy, and was arguably bad for the MoCo when everything came to an end.
This time around, the deal could make more sense, as Ducati is a much more stable and established brand than MV Agusta. The company has gained value under its Volkswagen ownership, and while it’s impossible to think of an Italian motorcycle manufacturer without thinking of financial instability, Ducati has certainly projected an aura of success in the past few years, achieving sales growth and releasing a constant stream of exciting new models.
As well, it’s arguable that Ducati fans are the only motorcyclists that love their brand as much as Harley-Davidson faithful cling to the Bar and Shield brand. Harley-Davidson’s marketeers should be able to work with this sort of a customer base.
Would Harley-Davidson have the money to buy the brand? Asking price is expected to be around 1.5 billion Euros, which is a lot of cash.