Germany’s Audi abandoned plans it set in motion to sell Ducati its Italian motorcycle brand, said its CEO Rupert Stadler. The change of mind shows the confidence the carmaker has that it will carry the cost for its transformation.
Steps to lower costs by more than €10 billion equal to $11.8 billion, cut its red tape and deepen its ties to fellow brand Porsche owned by Volkswagen are increasing gradually the organizational and financial leeway for strategic realignment, said Stadler.
There is no need therefore to sell Ducati, said Stadler. The plans had stalled during the summer when the labor unions in VW backed by the controlling families of Porsche-Piech opposed the logic and need for sales of assets given the financial resilience of the group.
Investors as well as potential buyers of Ducati expect VW could change its stance again, and eventually decide to sell the motorcycle brand, which they believe has the least amount of importance strategically to VW.
Investors have favored for much time divestments to simply the group structure of VW, and strengthen the management’s ability to push structural changes through against the wishes of the unions.
Audi, which is the owner of Ducati and Lamborghini the maker of the Italian supercar by the same name, in November posted an operational profit and revenue higher than that expected for its first three quarters of 2017, helped by the growing demand in autos in the higher margin U.S. and western Europe markets.
While pushing an expensive shift to autonomous technologies, and zero-emissions, holding onto the Ducati division, which is profitable and the Lamborghini brand, which is lucrative, are more important to use now said Stadler.
Separately, Sadler announced that Audi would spend close to half a billion euros during the next eight years training staff for the upcoming digital age, including the developing and hiring of experts such as designers of automotive apps and specialists in car robotics.
To lower its costs, Audi wants headcount to remain stable, at least during the next 3 years, even as its plans include adding 20 or more electric vehicles by 2025 into the market, and push digitized mobility services, said the CEO.
With over two-thirds of the 60 or more Audi models still slated by 2025 to have combustion engine vehicles, tightening the carbon rules will be the biggest risk over the upcoming years, said Sadler.