- Jon Reay
Audi snaps up Ducati
Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati has been bought by Germany's VW Group, via its Audi premium brand.
Audi reckons that Ducati is an 'excellent fit' for them - matching their 'sporty, global premium brand'. Ducati also marks Audi's third investment in Italy, following the acquisition of Lamborghini and (through them) Italdesign-Giugiaro.
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Whether VW group have any specific plans for the brand remains to be discovered, but Twitter has already been awash with jokes - among them the idea of porting Audi's Quattro system onto a bike, or offering a TDI option across the range.
Audi isn't the first carmaker to delve into the world of two-wheeled mobility, though - BMW, Honda and Suzuki all have their own well-established motorcycle arms, while Peugeot keeps its hand in with a range of scooters.
Founded in Bologna back in the 1920s, Ducati are one of Italy's most successful motorcycle manufacturers, offering a wide range of products - from 'naked' to 'super' bikes, with 'cruisers' in between.
They've dabbled with their fair share of motorsport events, too - winning MotoGP, Superbike World and British Superbike championships on 23 occasions in total.
The particular reasoning behind the purchase is unknown, but it's not the first time VW have tried - attempting to buy Ducati back in 2008, but losing out to its now-previous owner Investindustrial.
It's understood that the buy is more likely to have been simply for trophy value than anything significant, though, with IHS Automotive's Christophe Stuermer weighing in on the subject.
"Ducati is one of the finest machines you can buy but strategically it's insignificant for Volkswagen," he said.
"Its revenue is more than Lamborghini's and Bugatti's combined, but to the automotive operations, it's a mere accessory."
Either way, the purchase has successfully - if accidentally - irritated Mercedes-Benz's tuning arm, AMG. Back in December they teamed up with Ducati to produce a 'Streetfighter yellow' special edition SLK 55, and have now had to retract their partnership with Ducati for fairly obvious reasons.
A statement from the firm stated that the decision stemmed from Ducati's "takeover by a rival car manufacturer", which had "understandably resulted" in the demise of the collaboration.