Ducati is owned by the Porsche family, which also owns the whole Volkswagen Group through the Porsche Automobil Holding SE. Indeed, the entire group comprises three types of brands: volume, premium, and sport. Audi is part of the premium segment of the Volkswagen Group. The group generated over €250 billion in revenue in 2021.
Ducati is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer whose headquarters is located in Bologna. The company was founded in 1926 as Società Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati (SSR Ducati) by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his three sons Marcello, Bruno, and Adriano.
Ducati initially produced vacuum tubes, condensers, and other electronic components. During World War II the company shifted its focus to military equipment and produced radios and other communication devices for the Italian army.
With its factory destroyed by Allied bombers in 1944 and the war concluding soon after, Ducati lost its primary source of income and was beset by financial problems. In response, the company became state-owned and turned its attention back to civilian products.
This pivot commenced in 1945 with the production of four-stroke engines after Ducati was gifted 12 surplus army trucks by Bologna’s mayor.
Around the same time, the small Turinese firm SIATA (Società Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie) were developing the Cucciolo.
The first Cucciolo was a separate propulsion motor that had to be attached to a standard bicycle, but these proved very popular as a low-cost form of transportation in the post-war period. The bike’s name, Italian for puppy, was inspired by its distinctive exhaust sound which resembled the sound of a barking dog.
When SIATA were unable to keep up with demand for the Cucciolo, Ducati purchased the manufacturing rights in 1946 and eventually developed its own fully-equipped motorcycle. The first such motorcycle was the Ducati 60, which was created in 1949 and featured a 60cc capacity, three-speed gearbox, cantilever rear suspension, and telescopic front forks.
Like the Cucciolo on which it was based, the Ducati 60 was popular with consumers. The bike was economical because it weighed a mere 45 kilograms, but its portability was also marketed to a female audience and those who wanted to store the bike inside the home to prevent theft.
Ducati is split
A 125cc and 175cc version were released in subsequent years, and Ducati’s motorcycle division was split off in 1954 to become Ducati Meccanica S.p.A. The other division, Ducati Elettronica, focused on the company’s line of electronics products.
The mass motorization period of the 1950s saw everyday Italians in need of a way to travel to work or the shops. But as motorcycle street races became more popular, the need for speed took precedence over bikes that were cheap and reliable.
Designed by Fabio Taglioni in 1955, the Marianna 125 Gran Sport became one of Ducati’s most famous models and could reach speeds of 170 km/h. In 1956, the Ducatti 100 Siluro was produced to break the speed record at Monza.
Ducatti’s production plant was expanded in the 1970s to include a racing track where employees could test bikes. The track was later replaced and upgraded and the testing process remains integral to the company today.
Change in ownership
Ducati was purchased by fellow Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva in 1985 after the company started buying Ducati’s four-stroke v-twin engines. Cagiva maintained the Ducati brand outside of Italy where it was better recognized, and later models such as the Alazzurra and Elefant were released with Ducati engines.
Cagiva sold 51% of Ducati to Texas Pacific Group (TPG) in 1996 for $325 million, with the Texas-based investment group acquiring most of the remaining 49% two years later. In 1999, TPG held an IPO of Ducati stock and renamed it Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
Ducati returned to majority Italian ownership in 2005 after it was acquired by global private equity firm Investindustrial Holdings. That company was founded in 1990 by Andrea Campanini Bonomi and today focuses on acquisitions of mid-market companies in Europe and North America.
In the most recent change of ownership, Ducati was purchased by Volkswagen’s Audi division in 2012 in a deal worth around $1.13 billion. Many believe the deal reflected VW Chairman Ferdinand’s passion for Ducati and the fact that he missed out on an opportunity to buy the company in 1984.
- Ducati is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer whose headquarters is located in Bologna. The company was founded in 1926 as Società Scientifica Radiobrevetti Ducati (SSR Ducati) by Antonio Cavalieri and his three sons Marcello, Bruno, and Adriano.
- When SIATA proved unable to keep up with demand for the Cucciolo, Ducati purchased the manufacturing rights in 1946 and eventually developed its own fully-equipped motorcycle. This first such motorcycle was the Ducati 60 which paved the way for numerous future successes.
- Italian motorcycle manufacturer Cagiva purchased Ducati in 1985 and incorporated some of its engines into new models. The company was later owned by Texas Pacific Group and private equity firm Investindustrial before being acquired by Volkswagen’s Audi division in 2012.