BMW Group, in addition to cars and utes and limos, builds motorcycles. Its BMW Motorrad operation is widely acknowledged for making high-quality, top-performance bikes. The blue and white roundel on a fuel tank is as respected as the one that is found on the hood of a 7 Series.
Back in 2012, AUDI AG announced that it would acquire Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor Holding. In making the announcement, Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, explained: “Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty motorcycles. It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi.”
A good rationalization. Particularly that part about profitability.
Recently, Mercedes-AMG, the performance part of Mercedes-Benz Cars, announced that it would be acquiring a 25% stake in MV Agusta. It, too, is a motorcycle manufacturer.
The explanation for this one comes from Wilko Stark, vice president Daimler Strategy & Mercedes-Benz Cars Product Strategy and Planning, and it goes like this:
“The positioning of Mercedes-AMG as the performance brand in the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio will be further strengthened through the strategic partnership with MV Agusta. The strategic cooperation with MV Agusta will allow us to address high-performance enthusiasts with automobiles and with motorcycles. Through the cooperation in the area of marketing and sales, we will be able to attract new target groups for both companies all over the world.”
Which sounds somewhat more nebulous than the Audi explanation (i.e., Ducati knows a lot about light structures, makes compact, high-performance engines, and is really, really profitable).
Somehow, the notion that a buyer of an S 63 AMG is going to say, “Hmm, maybe I ought to complement this ride with a Brutale 800 Dragster RR.”
Of course, as I don’t have $130K-plus for a car, this may be completely off base.
I asked a friend who rides motorcycles (and for full disclosure: he once owned a Ducati) about the relative status of the German companies vis-à-vis the related motorcycle brands.
And he responded that while BMW and Ducati have the same level of street cred as the car parts of the businesses, things are not so good, in his estimation regarding MV Agusta: “The brand is murky and their quality is so-so.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Mercedes-AMG.