Ducati Off to a Roaring Start in Chongqing, China

2013 Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak

Ducati Targets the Chinese Motorcycle Market

It is no secret that there is a lot of money floating around in China. China is now the primary target of designer leisure brands and the motorcycle industry covets Chinese disposable income as much as anyone. The first European marque to boldly dip their toes in to Chinese water was the Bologna-based Ducati, a decision the Italian manufacturer is unlikely to regret.

Ducati officially entered mainland China in October, 2009, and established a controlling general agent – “Ducati China.”  Now, Ducati has authorized dealerships and service centers in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Jiangmen, Dalian, Zhengzhou and Chongqing.

Early in March, I was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the Chongqing Ducati showroom. Ducati Chongqing opened its authorized dealer showroom in Nanbin Road (also home of Harley Davidson and MV Agusta dealerships) in a ceremony attended and hosted by Evan Mak – General Manager of Ducati China, as well as hordes of media and motorbike enthusiasts.

Mak delivered the authorization to Ducati Chongqing, marking the official launch of Ducati in Chongqing. He commented “In the last 4 years, China has seen a dramatic growth in terms of sales and interest towards the Ducati brand. We are pleased with what we have done so far and we are making additional moves to improve our place in all the main motorcycle markets. In Asia, China is one of the more progressive markets and sales are revealing this.

“The Ducati Club of China and our sales network will grow and provide many exciting new products for our customers. Ducati Chongqing will also organize various activities to share the Ducati enthusiasm and dream. Ducati Chongqing is committed to bringing Italian motorcycle sport culture to Chongqing and Southwest China.”

Ducati Chongqing is located in the Dafuo area on Nanbin Road, which is fast turning in to the center for high end motorcycles, and is the only authorized Ducati dealer in Chongqing. It is a showroom where you can buy motorcycles, get maintenance, buy accessories and parts, and provide feedback and get information.

Chinese motorcycle industry analyst Zo Fu says “Chongqing should really be the first choice for any motorcycle marque wishing to get installed in China. Chongqing is the biggest producer of two wheelers in the world providing around 20 percent of all the worlds’ motorcycles. Also, because it’s a mountainous city, there is no chance of the government extending the urban ban on motorcycles to Chongqing, it just won’t happen. I find it curious that certain legendary motorcycle brands (you know who you are) look at Beijing and Shanghai to start their Chinese projects; it just shows that they haven’t done the research properly. Harley-Davidson has now moved their flagship dealership to Chongqing, they learned slowly but they learned and now HD Chongqing, despite only being open for six months, outsells the other dealerships in China.

“There are some great bikes at the Chongqing Ducati showroom, a real good selection and I can see the Diavel, Streetfighter and Hypermotord selling really well in Chongqing. The China manager Evan Mak told me that they have been swamped with orders pre to the opening and are expecting to be the best selling Ducati dealership on mainland.”

Ducati have been instrumental in bringing the leisure aspect (as opposed to motorcycle for commuter and agrarian reasons) in to Chinese riding culture. Now operating dealerships in six mainland Chinese cities, and planning more, they have become quite the talk of the country and annual sales increases are indicating that the new riding culture in China is not just a flash in the pan.

However, Ducati’s growing success has meant that they will not have it all there own way as other top-end motorcycle marques from Europe greedily eye the Chinese market. The first to decide to stand toe to toe with Ducati are Ducati’s countrymen MV Agusta. Their cooperation partnership with Chongqing Lifan was sure to put a spanner in the works of Ducati’s plans…or was it?

I asked Evan for his feelings on the Italian competition: “At this stage of development of the Chinese market, every new entrant in the markets just contributes to make the market itself bigger.  So we welcome our cousins from MV Agusta. We also hear that Triumph is planning to have a presence in China within the year so we also look forward to locking horns with them. Also, throw in to the mix Moto Guzzi and Aprilia and it bodes well for the Chinese consumer.

“There is also the new wave of Chinese 600 and 650cc bikes. As I said before, all the bikes that can help us enlarging the market are more than welcome! The “firepower” of the Chinese makers can also help the consumer recognise the difference between a cub a scooter and a bigger displacement motorcycle, thus encouraging the customer to enjoy bigger bikes.”

Ducati sold a record 44,102 motorcycles in 2012, showing a 16-percent increase in revenue over 2011. The positive news was announced as part of parent company Audi‘s annual press conference in Igolstadt, Germany. Ducati produced 43,910 motorcycles in 2012, including 41,519 from its base in Bologna, Italy and another 2,391 units from its factory in Thailand. Of these figures, a total of 15,734 units were produced under Audi ownership. The biggest single market was the United States with more than 9,300 motorcycles sold.

Evan Mak continues “relatively speaking these are early days for Ducati in Chongqing and China but it will be no surprise to anyone if within 5 years Ducati China is challenging for the number one spot among Ducati markets in the world.”

Ducati China’s 2013 product range, includes the new Multistrada, Hypermotard, Hyperstrada and 1199 Panigale models.