Motorcycles

Audi might sell off Ducati and KTM could be ready to snap it up

The legendary Italian sport bike maker is no stranger to changes of ownership, but its last six years under the Volkswagen Group might be tough to beat.

Ducati

It's been six years since the Volkswagen Group bought Ducati, the legendary Italian motorcycle manufacturer, for around $840 million. Those years have been some of the best of Ducati's 92-year-long history. The brand has introduced its wildly popular Scrambler sub-brand, the development of its Multistrada line, and its new Panigale V4 is one of the most extreme production motorcycles ever made.

That being said, it's not exactly the best of times at the VW Group. It's rumored that ze Germans could be putting Ducati up on the auction block once again, and KTM, of all companies, is considering buying it, according to an interview published recently by Speedweek.com with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer.

At first blush, it seems like kind of a weird pairing. KTM is a relatively small motorcycle manufacturer that is best known for its off-road bikes. Pierer has been with KTM since the early 1990s. While his time at the helm of the Austrian company has been fruitful, his goal to have KTM be the world's third-largest sports motorcycle maker -- something he mentions in his Speedweek interview -- is wildly ambitious. Buying Ducati, however, could give him a massive leg-up toward that goal.

"Audi may soon have other priorities than a motorcycle plant due to the diesel affair and e-mobility. Ducati is the Ferrari of the motorcycle industry," said Stefan Pierer, CEO of KTM, in an interview with Speedweek.com. "Of course, having such a brand in our group would be interesting. It is not a question of price, but it is about the topic: When does everyone realize in which situation he is?"

KTM has dabbled in making hardcore sports motorcycles before with the V-twin-powered RC8 and currently with its single-cylinder RC390. The company has had significant success with its adventure bikes and with its naked bikes like the Super Duke R.