MNC interview: Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati
Invited to the opening night of the new Ducati Paris ‘Store’, Site spoke with a prestigious guest: Claudio Domenicali! Scrambler, scooter, markets, novelties … The CEO of Ducati confided in MNC.
After attending the press conference organized at the Parisian Ducati Store (read), Site was able to speak with the CEO of the Borgo Panigale brand, Claudio Domenicali in person. "Mamma mia", MNC will have to ensure !
Site: Mr. Domenicali, you became CEO of Ducati two years ago. What was your first big decision in this role ?
Claudio Domenicali: I had a long discussion with the CEO of Audi and with the entire board of directors about Ducati’s sports program, which was in dire straits at the time. I suggested that they restructure the teams and they agreed. They even supported me. I think this is by far my biggest decision.
MNC: Today you are attending the inauguration of the new Parisian "Store". What image do you have of France in general ?
C. D .: The image of France is not very far from that of Italy in my opinion. We have a lot in common. The attention we pay to design, food and wine…
MNC: It’s our Latin side !
C. D .: Yes, exactly, this bon vivant side, which enjoys life. In this we are very close. On the other hand, seen from Italy, France looks more "European". And it seems that France is trying more to keep its industry, which is very important in my opinion. This great industry, Italy has had more difficulty in protecting it over the last twenty years, or it has sold it. On the other hand, Italians adapt more quickly to new situations..
MNC: How important is the French market to your business? ?
C. D .: It is very important, it is one of the most important in Europe. But I consider that the potential of our brand in France is higher than the current level. For one reason or another, we haven’t been able to reveal how far the brand has evolved over the past three years, as a new part of the Volkswagen Group. We are one of the 12 brands of a very solid, very reliable group that offers us financial support. And I’m not sure it’s very clear in the minds of potential customers in France. They may see us as a little fanciful Italian boutique…
MNC: We know the United States is your biggest market. Americans don’t ask you for a cruiser that stays sporty and sophisticated – it would be a Ducati! – but maybe a little more comfortable for long journeys with two and loaded ?
C. D .: The USA are very satisfied with our product line. They see us as a European manufacturer. A motorcycle made on purpose to suit a certain market would no longer be a genuine Ducati. We sell our products very well in the United States thanks to their sportiness, sophistication and performance. On the other hand, it is true that we can exploit our values in segments in which we are not currently present. The future will tell.
MNC: Precisely … In France as in Italy, an impressive number of bikers are crazy about Tmax. This does not tempt you to invest this segment of the sports maxiscooter ?
C. D .: Well, let’s say that this is a possible evolution for our brand because it is a sports product intended for daily use. This is a possibility, but it is not foreseen in the short term.
MNC: Let’s talk about the concrete. We have seen in our reports that the Scrambler made a good entry into the French market. It seems the same is true in Italy? Is it the best selling Ducati or the best selling in the whole Italian market? ?
C. D .: All over the market. And it works well all over the world.
MNC: When it first launched, you thought the Scrambler was a ‘mark within a mark’. You confirm it today ?
C. D .: Absolutely.
MNC: So this is not your entry-level Ducati ?
C. D .: If, if, if! In fact, it is a new brand that we want to distinguish as much as possible from Ducati. But all of our motorcycles are of course in the same stores. After two years, a Scrambler customer will therefore easily be able to ride a Monster. If the dealer takes good care of his customer and he comes back to see him to change his bike … The Scrambler is perfect for entering our world. It’s a simple, affordable motorcycle, as easy to ride as a 125, light, low saddle. We catch a lot of new customers who can then switch to an evolution of the Scrambler (more powerful, more expensive, heavier … more R nineT, editor’s note?!) or jump on a Ducati.
MNC: That means we won’t see a small Monster like the 696 anymore. The smallest one currently is the 821 … It’s pretty big, right? The Scrambler will remain the new and only entry level in your home ?
C. D .: Maybe not…
MNC: In France, to caricature, it sells either small not – too – expensive motorcycles like the MT-07, or large and expensive R1200GS. Wouldn’t it be interesting for Ducati to market Multistrada or Diavel 899 as you do with the Panigale? You would earn less money than with the 1200s, of course, but you would allow more people, and more young people, to ride a Ducati….
C. D .: You are very smart, few people analyze this data (thank you, thank you, Editor’s note)…It’s all about compromise, you know! We are studying this issue at the moment, and we could offer an answer….
MNC: Thanks to the Scrambler in particular, you plan to exceed 50,000 units in 2015. But how many motorcycles can you produce at the most in your factories in Bologna (Italy) and Rayong (Thailand) ?
C. D .: There is no real limit set. We can organize ourselves, our production tool is very flexible, we can split it into two different chains if we wish. In my opinion, the limit is much more at the level of demand than of supply. What we don’t want is to artificially increase demand by developing low-cost motorcycles. We want to maintain our offer of "Premium" products, correctly manufactured, from good material.
MNC: You mentioned China during the press conference. Brazil is another interesting market for Ducati. You are working there in partnership with Dafra. What motorcycles do they produce there ?
C. D .: Almost the whole range.
MNC: In what quantity ?
C. D .: A thousand machines left the factory in 2014. They will be a little more numerous this year but we are having a little trouble. We made some mistakes and we are correcting them right now. We even corrected them. In 2016 therefore we will start to see a major improvement from Ducati in Brazil..
MNC: To conclude, let’s come back to the Scrambler … This bike fully plays the cards of cool, hedonism, vintage, even surfing (terribly "fashion" surfing, even Gisele Bündchen got into it for the Chanel ad # 5!). Are you not afraid that these currently fashionable values will soon fade, and with them the success of the Scrambler? ?
C. D .: I think the general trend is quite heavy. It won’t fade anytime soon.
MNC: A few years ago, the vintage wave had not appeared. Couldn’t another wave replace her ?
C. D .: I think the Scrambler is much more than Vintage. It’s a way of expressing your personality, enjoying the great outdoors and taking things as they come, which is unrelated to Vintage. Some of our competitors are. We are much more modern and we do not foresee the disappearance of this spirit in the years to come..
Interview by Matthieu BRETILLE
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