Motorcycle News is reporting that “Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali has once again officially dismissed rumors the Italian firm is working on either a scooter or small capacity bikes in the foreseeable future despite new and unfounded internet rumors.”
With the Audi acquisition fresh in our minds, Ducati seems ripe for disruption, yet it would seem that any further shake-up at Italy’s other iconic two-wheel brand will not include scooters or smaller motorcycles at this time. Their reasons are their own, but given the success of BMW in the maxi-scooter space this last year, I’d be surprised if the brass at Ducati weren’t at least considering a scooter at some point in the future. For the time being, however, the official stance is a no. The official word? “A scooter is not in the foreseeable future for Ducati.”
Well there you go.
Yet a scooter from the Duc pond is not without precedent. There are two scooters in Ducati’s past worth noting. The first was the Cruiser, which debuted in 1952.
From the Ducati USA website:
“The Cruiser had a lot of firsts: it was the first Italian four-stroke scooter, the first scooter in Italy with an automatic transmission and the first scooter produced by Ducati. Initially the Cruiser was designed to have 12 horsepower but the engine was later reduced to 7.5 hp because of a governmental regulation limiting the scooters speed limit to 50 km/h.”
Not bad for its day. Strange to think that had the market gone a different way, Ducati could be today’s Vespa or Lambretta. A decade on, Ducati came back to scooters with something smaller, the Brio.
Also from the Ducati USA site:
“Unveiled at the 1963 Milan Exhibition, the Brio was Ducati’s second foray into the scooter market, around 10 years after the launch of the Cruiser 175. The 48 and 80 cc Motoscooter projects all date back to the period between 1957 and 1962.
One year after its launch, the Brio 48 was joined by a 100cc version, which was also used by the traffic police in Bologna, and was then replaced by the 50cc, with a 49.6cc engine and a more deluxe finish.”
Obviously times have changed since the ’50s and ’60s and the two-wheeled landscape has changed perhaps most of all for Ducati. Now positioned squarely as a premium luxury brand, I can’t help but speculate that at this point Ducati wouldn’t “lower itself” to build a scooter model. While I’m not part of the Ducatista myself, I think that other players in the segment have established that there’s a place for elite brands and smaller bikes. While the BMW C-series comes to mind, it’s really the Vespa 946 that makes my point for me. A $10,000, small displacement, premium italian scooter that’s made huge waves since its conceptual unveil two years ago. What’s more, they’re selling. Whatever Ducati’s reason for staying out of the scooter business, I think there’s still a missed opportunity there.