Oct. 13, 2008 – Delving into the European bike market with Ducati’s CEO

INDIANAPOLIS — The CEO of one of the most well-known motorcycle brands in the world is no stranger to premium markets.
Gabriele Del Torchio served as the leader of a huge European marine manufacturer, the Ferretti Group, before eventually coming to Ducati Motor Holding in May 2007.
Del Torchio sat down with Powersports Business to discuss the European manufacturer and the issues it’s facing, both in its homeland, Italy, and in North America, its second largest market.

Powersports Business: During the past year, we have seen considerable acquisitions and changes impacting European motorcycle manufacturers. BMW purchased Husqvarna. KTM partnered with an India-based company. Harley-Davidson recently bought MV Agusta. Do you expect this trend to continue?

Del Torchio: I think this trend will continue in the coming year because there will be further integration of more companies, and this is especially true for the mass manufacturer. I believe a company like Ducati, being so distinctive, will likely be less effected to that. But definitely there is a trend in Europe that will be maintained in the coming years. Definitely.

PSB: The weakened U.S. dollar has been an especially challenging issue for European manufacturers, and yet it was really not discussed during the Ducati North American dealer meeting. But I’m sure it is an issue for Ducati?

Del Torchio: Definitely, it is impacting us quite heavily. We believe, sooner or later, the dollar will go back to a more realistic value. As I said during our meeting to the dealers, we are truly committed to this market, so we cannot afford now to change certain prices or policies because the dollar is weakening. We are here. We’re showing our commitment. Sooner or later, the dollar will revert. As a matter of fact, in recent days we saw a slight (rebound) of the dollar. It’s far away from the value it should be because it’s not reflecting the purchasing power of the American, but it’s better than a month ago.

PSB: Having led a high-end marine manufacturer before coming to Ducati, I would expect the challenges you face today with Ducati are not wholly different from what you’ve seen before?

Del Torchio: No it’s not different. It’s not different in terms of marketing policies, not different in terms of customer expectation. What is completely different is the level of passion. Because frankly speaking, this company has a big advantage because we have a high level of passion. We have a high level of involvement. We have a high level of motivation among our customers, our dealers and ourselves. This is what makes us different. Having said that, our choice is very clear. We want more and more to be perceived as a premium company. Premium in terms of product. Premium in terms of performance. Premium in terms of style. Premium in terms of distribution.
— Neil Pascale

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