Ducati will not launch an electric motorcycle for consumers anytime soon, leading motorcycle maker Volkswagen AG’s €89 billion ($94 billion) move to electrify its stable of businesses.
The Italian brand will be the sole manufacturer of e-bikes racing in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup this year, and in June presented its first electric motorcycle prototype for the project. But Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati’s North American operations, said the company still has work to do to improve battery range and performance before the e-bike is ready for showrooms.
“It’s going to be a few years,” Chinnock told Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “The battery technology really isn’t there.”
Chinnock’s approach contrasts not only with VW’s embrace of batteries for electric passenger cars, but also with rival Harley-Davidson Inc. K is also enthusiastic about e-bikes. Harley launched the LiveWire — its first plug-in model — in 2019 and last year executed the spinoff of its electric motorcycle division, merging it with a special-purpose acquisition company to form LiveWire Group Inc.
Electrification is affecting the motorcycle segment more disproportionately than passenger cars. While Honda Motor Co. recently announced plans to introduce at least 10 models worldwide by 2025, BMW AG has so far only unveiled concept bikes.
As one of four brands under Volkswagen’s premium group that share research and production resources, Ducati is exploring alternative fuels and other technologies to reduce its carbon footprint.
“The consumer bike isn’t in direct development because it’s still very early,” Chinnock said. “It’s really going to evolve battery technology.”
“Once it’s developed to the point where it makes sense for us to integrate it, where we can address performance and range and weight, that’s the trifecta,” Chinnock said. “It still clearly needs to be a Ducati.”