Could Volkswagen Group's Electric Plans Include Ducati?

The Dieselgate scandal sent shockwaves in the automotive industry and revealed that not everyone had been playing fair in this game. Obviously, Volkswagen is the manufacturer that took the biggest hit, and it looks only fair that they should pay dearly for their trickery.
With around billions to be spent fixing the Dieselgate aftermath, and more backlashes to be dealt with in the mid-term future, VW has to fall back to the positions they can defend more easily and the recent declarations made by the group's CEO Matthias Muller indicate that the Germans are exploring new directions.

Namely, Volkswagen has big plans to experiment more with electric mobility and BEVs (battery-powered electric vehicles). In a somewhat reserved tone, if not a very cautious one. Mr. Muller explains in Wolfsburg, that Volkswagen will shift its point of interest more towards electric vehicles in an attempt to safeguard the long-term future of the company.

"This will require us – following the serious setback as a result of the diesel issue – to learn from mistakes made, rectify shortcomings and establish a corporate culture that is open, value-driven and rooted in integrity," Muller declares. Even though the VW official doesn't use the same "strategic realignment" term BMW used when they were preparing to pull out of World Superbike and sell Husqvarna to KTM, he mentions "comprehensively transforming the core automotive business, rapidly establishing a new mobility solutions business" as part of the new strategy.

By the way, the new program adopted by Volkswagen is called “TOGETHER – Strategy 2025” and it appears to aim at global changes and also to target all the companies under the Group's umbrella. This, obviously, brings Audi into the discussion, and Audi is the one name that links VW to the motorcycle industry through its sub-brand, Ducati.
Volkswagen CEO says nothing about Audi or Ducati but we just can't ignore the fact that they are part of the bigger picture
Now, Mr. Muller makes no specific reference to Audi or Audi-owned Ducati as part of the “TOGETHER – Strategy 2025” development program, but as the car manufacturer represents one of the strongest and biggest names in the VW Group, it's hard to believe that the long-term plans exclude it.

The truth is that the car manufacturers needed a massive blow to get the out of the inertia they so much enjoyed until recently. Still, Tesla's bold moves look like the perfect motivation more conservative brands were missing. And then, bam, they are all awake and looking for solutions, beginning to understand that others have not been idling.

The reticence manufacturer of traditional, petrol-powered vehicles, be they motorbikes, or cars have in the face of change is easy to understand. They spend a lot of money in developing engines that are polluting less, models that are more economical and more ergonomic, and all. Even so, the technology they work with is already proven to work, whereas the limits of electric powertrains, batteries, and charging technologies are still far from being completely explored.

In a way, the entire thing looks like the technological gap Honda is struggling with now in MotoGP. They obstinately refuse to make any concessions and get involved in testing and developing the spec ECU software until the very last minute. When they decided to give it very serious try, it was too late, as other teams were already making progress with it.

Nowadays, Honda mechanics and engineers are trying to catch up and find ways to mitigate the numerous problems their riders encounter. And progress is slow, naturally.

In the road-going motorcycle world we see pretty much the same behavior, give or take. None of the big manufacturers is taking electric bikes as seriously as we'd expect, even though we can vouch that things have sped up recently, and many are just flying under the radar.

Surprisingly, Harley-Davidson made an almost historic decision, announcing that they will, indeed, come forth with a production series electric cruiser, albeit not giving too man details about it. You can read about this move in the editorial I recently published.

If a bike maker as conservative as the MoCo understood that we are all witnessing the dawn of a new era in motorcycling, then we'd expect that the entire matter should be more than clear to the rest.

At this point, Ducati may have the upper hand because they are a part of a huge automotive group with at least two big entities that already have expertise in the EV field, Volkswagen, and Audi.

Unlike Harley or other motorcycle manufacturers save BMW and Honda, Ducati can benefit from a technological background that has already tried and tested certain directions, so they would not make the same mistakes again.

And with the deep pockets of Audi, Ducati can also fund the research and development of electric motorcycles, including establishing a new division that would work in this field exclusively. They could go for a superbike, as well as for a more affordable segment, capitalizing the Ducati brand heritage and following the current sales trend.

That is, the trend set by the Scrambler, a model that not only is the most affordable Ducati but which also accounts for around a third of the sales volumes and became Italy's best-selling motorcycle.

The Scrambler drew a younger demographic in Ducati dealerships, so an electric bike with killer looks and the famous Bologna badge selling for a decent price could follow into its steps. Of course, by "decent" I mean a price around €15,000 or so, which is okay for a good electric two-wheeler, even though a bit steep for a guy who's set on a Scrambler.

In the end, the big news is that the Volkswagen Group, with its all-new penchant towards electric mobility and self-driving cars, could provide Ducati the perfect wake to sail on its way towards the future, a future more and more fellows in the automotive industry begin to ascertain as being electric.


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