Automaker expected to keep Ducati and Lamborghini as it transitions to EV maker
Audi is no longer going to sell Ducati even as it moves toward EVs and mobility services, according to a new report. Speaking with Reuters, Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler says that the automaker has taken steps to reduce costs by $11.8 billion USD and started to create better ties with Porsche as part of an alignment strategy for both luxury brands. As a result, Stadler said that there is “no economic need” to sell Ducati.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen Group asked banks to see how economically viable it would be for the company to keep Ducati and transmission manufacturer Renk as it transforms itself into an EV and autonomous vehicle manufacturer in the aftermath of its diesel emissions scandal.
“I can assure you that Ducati belongs to the Audi family,” Stadler told Reuters. “Ducati is the perfect implementation of our premium philosophy in the world of motorbikes.” The plan to sell Ducati stalled earlier this summer when labor unions backed by the Porsche-Piech family opposed the decision. However, investors and potential buyers of the motorcycle brand believe that Volkswagen could change its mind again and eventually sell it since it’s the least important brand within the group in terms of strategy.
A person close to the matter told Reuters that Ducati could be “an easy bargaining chip” for Volkswagen to move its business plans forward. Volkswagen investors favor the simplification of the Volkswagen Group’s structure and pushing through changes that are at odds with the labor union’s intentions.
Growth in western Europe and the U.S. has helped improve Audi’s profits and revenue for the first nine months of the year. Stadler believes that holding on to the Ducati and Lamborghini brands has become more important as Audi and the rest of the Volkswagen Group push toward EVs and self-driving tech. He also told Reuters that Lamborghini sales are predicted to double with the arrival of the Urus, giving the Italian exotic car maker an entry in the growing utility vehicle segment.
The costs of dieselgate still weigh heavy on Audi, but Stadler thinks the brand can soon get back to business as usual. The automaker’s whistleblower system has been overhauled and allows its domestic and international staff to report illegal activity more easily. It has also set up a permanent investigation office that will deal with illegal activities. A task force that monitors fixes for 850,000 diesel-powered vehicles that needed updates to its emissions control software. Stadler believes that the automaker can now go back to normal operation from crisis mode and expects the updates to its diesel-powered vehicles to be done by the first quarter of next year.