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Associated Press
Friday, August 7, 2015 6:22pm

BOLOGNA, Italy — Since a surprise takeover in 2012 by German automaker Volkswagen, Italian sports motorcycle maker Ducati has enjoyed an era of much-needed financial stability that it has ridden to record sales.

But don't expect Ducati bikes to start flooding the market. CEO Claudio Domenicali is focused on protecting the aura of exclusivity surrounding the brand, which is best known for its success on global racing circuits.

"We will stay a premium brand," he said recently at the company's factory and headquarters in the Borgo Panigale neighborhood of Bologna.

Ducati sold 7,400 motorcycles in June, a 60 percent increase over June 2015. And through the first half of the year, the company increased sales by 22 percent to a record 32,600 motorcycles.

This year's sales include 9,000 deliveries of the Scrambler, a new retro-styled bike aimed at customers who may not have traditionally considered buying a Ducati. Some enthusiasts have been critical of the laid-back Scrambler — complete with its own yellow logo and line of clothing and accessories — as a departure from Ducati's racing roots. The Scrambler's 75 horsepower, for example, is just a fraction of the 205 horsepower erupting from Ducati's top-of-the-line Panigale 1299 S superbike.

Domenicali shrugs off those concerns.

"It's part of a character that is more about lifestyle, and easygoing," Domenicali says, noting Ducati still sells a range of high-performance street bikes — in their traditional red paint job.

Domenicali was named the CEO of Ducati in 2013, the year after the company was bought by Volkswagen subsidiary Audi. He previously ran Ducati's racing division, directed research and development and served as general manager for operations and product development.

The Volkswagen takeover, he says, was fundamental in boosting Ducati sales — not only by providing stable ownership but also through its focus on customer satisfaction, as opposed to mere financial returns.

"That changes the world, you know?" Domenicali said. "Because you are not just reporting to either just the stock exchange or the banks and trying to keep them happy, but trying to keep the customer happy," he said.

Ducati's racing heritage is something that is as fundamental to the brand as it is to the iconic sports cars built 25 miles to the west, he said.

"We like to think that we are like Ferrari, but Ferrari is a dream and Ducati is a dream you can achieve," he said. "Because you actually can buy a Ducati."

After Audi's purchase of Ducati, rival luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz's performance division, AMG, bought a 25 percent stake in Italian sportsbike maker MV Agusta in 2014. And BMW has been making motorcycles since before it began producing cars. Motorcycles help drive younger customers to the auto showrooms of automakers, Domenicali said.

"They gain the sexiness of the brand," he said. "Cars, of course, are interesting, but sometimes are not as exciting as bikes."
 

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It's certainly all good for the customer,

I like his last quote best , cars are not as exciting as bikes, how right he is, :)
 

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"Some enthusiasts have been critical of the laid back scrambler".........umm,I think you will find plenty of enthusiasts on this forum who aren't!...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I've definitely gotten the feeling from true Duc guys that the scrambler is "slumming it".
From "true" duc guys? So the guys that have the full leathers and ride a $25K bike on the street, where it is rubbish? The ones that have the Duc Hat and the Duc shirt, and the red Pumas?

Ride what you ride because you like the ride. Don't ride for the guy next to you, ride it for your own grins. :)

I do understand where you are coming from though. This is why Duc created a different brand for the Scrambler line. Just like BMW did with Mini.
 

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Haha! I love it. Thanks for the laugh :D

And yes, it's exactly the type you described. Actually, if I'm honest, if the scrambler attracted those type of people then I probably wouldn't have liked it as much. I like the scrambler for the reasons they don't.
 

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From "true" duc guys? So the guys that have the full leathers and ride a $25K bike on the street, where it is rubbish? The ones that have the Duc Hat and the Duc shirt, and the red Pumas?
hah :D

its one of the reasons i initially stayed away from the brand after years of riding japanese bikes. for all the mocking ducati fanboys make of HD cliques for being irrationally loyal to cruiser culture, new to riding duc guys are no different in their slavish attitude toward duc's racing culture. to each their own but i've always enjoyed the different riding platforms, so that sort of narrow mindedness just irks me on a personal level.

that said, i think the best thing ducati did in marketing the scrambler was as its own sub-brand, so kudos to them.
 
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