May 27, 2008

Ducati comes to India

Ducati has landed in India. So should we, really, be celebrating?

This is a question I've faced in the recent days from a number of people. And why not. A product range, spanning the stratospheric Rs 15-50 lakh price range, is nothing to be scoffed at. Even as a motorcycle enthusiast, you have to wonder if you should be investing Rs 50 lakh in a depreciating, if gorgeous asset or in property/stocks or something. More to the point still, is a Ducati 1098R, arguably the fastest, trickest Ducati money can buy right now (Desmosedici RR is formally out of production and all of that sort of thing), is a Ducati 1098R really worth, um, let's see, three R1s? Or for the that matter, two 848s and change?

But we'll come back to that in a bit. First of all, have a beer on me. That Ducati is here, with a full range, with plans for showrooms in all major cities and with the full intention of staying on is a good thing. Ducati, you have to remember is no doddering, floundering Italian company any more. Their last year was their best year so far, so on the face of it, they are in a position where they could relax, sit back, knock back some classy Chianti and congratulate themselves. They also happened to knock the entire Japanese clique off their MotoGP feet in 2007 and the tiny company (one way or another) has made it a habit of keeping everyone else embarrased in the World Superbikes paddock.

So what we have here is a significant event. Now, you could argue that Bentley/Lamborghini launching in India is insignificant. After all, how many people can really afford Rs 2 Crore cars. And I'd have to agree. Ducati is a pretty similar company in profile, actually. Not only are they a specialist manufacturer - despite the Multistrada and other oddities, they are firmly a sportsbike maker, they are also certified exotica. If the Yamaha R1 was the two-wheeled equivalent of a Nissan GT-R, the Ducati 1098, would actually be the Ferrari F430. That's sexy, exotic, powerful and not completely devoid of quirks.

But the heart of the matter is that while Lamborghini, Bentley etc are already here, Ducati is the first exotic bike maker that thinks 110 per cent duties, all manner of bureaucratic hurdles etc are all worth tackling to enter our market. They might only sell 50 bikes this year, but they are confident that those numbers will rise. Slowly, maybe, but steadily. And if Ducati thinks so, believe me, they are hardly likely to be alone in the room. You can bet your hard-earned rupee that everyone else in the room is paying attention as well. More of the same will follow, especially if Ducati pull of a coup by selling off all of their bikes before the year is out. I believe that may not be impossible. Every single exotic brand you can think of is running well ahead of their targets and I cannot see why Ducati should be any different. And yes, it is a luxury good. So just like you don't expect to use a Bentley or Patek Phillipe in daily use, Ducati owners will also use their bikes sparingly.

Again, I must remind you that when you look at the prices and shake your head, remember that Ducati is actually simply charging you government duties. If you consider the US prices for Ducati and add 114 per cent plus the dollar-rupee conversion, you'll pretty much land on Ducati's Indian price list. Which is about as fair as it can be, until duties come down, right?

Update: Since I wrote the above paragraph I found out that the Ducati 1098 (biposto) is US$14,999, which works out to about Rs 6.5 Lakh, so 114 per cent duties still pegs it at roughly Rs 15 lakh. Ducati's official tag is about Rs 25 lakh (ex-showroom, but includes VAT) for the bike... so that paragraph is not valid. Ducati is obviously aiming for the only business model that can sustain itself in the absence of bidg sales volumes – big margins. Hold on, more confusion. This site has the 1098 pegged at £11,250, which, still, is about Rs 9.5 lakh, and that's about Rs 20 lakh.... Oh dear.

Obviously, most of you, and that includes me, will not be able to afford these prices, but look at it this way. If you use a needle to make a hole in the wall, only a little of anything can cross the wall. But if you take a 70mm howitzer to the wall, many other things can also cross over. As in, if you have bikes between Rs 15-50 lakh on sale, someone is sure to realise that a gap in product offerings between Rs 95,000 to Rs 15,00,000 is an unusually large hole in a booming market. A gap like that cannot remain ignored for long.

And finally, is a Ducati 1098R really worth three R1s. Maybe if you lived right next to Monza and were dating the circuit security chief's daughter. You couldn't drive a Ferrari to work everyday even if you wanted to. A GT-R on the other hand, is very useable, if a little harder to live with than a Corolla. Which is what the R1 would turn out to be. So, if you have the cash for the 1098R, I suggest you buy an 848 (sporty, fast but not really a prima donna) or a hypermotard (fun, fast-ish, up for it, real) instead. Not only will you save a bunch of cash, you'll be far happier with them.

If there's any ambiguity left, I'll tell you this. I've looked up my family tree and there ain't no uncles lolling about in the branches, waiting to drop into graves, leaving me tons of cash to buy the 1098R with. Despite which, I'm off to buy a Bud to celebrate... Exorbitant, exotic and all of that, but atleast I can exercise my freedom to buy a Ducati when/if I had the money...

Images courtesy:


Hrishi said...

Leaving the feel good factor and all that, what am i left with?

I still have nothing to buy in the 1.5 to 2L bracket, and i am willing to put my money down right now.

Sorry saar, but this news doesn't have that effect, atleast on me. Im not going to have that chilled one. (Well, i will, but no toast to ducati ;-)

Sajal said...

Big Bucks for Big Bikes - rhyms well though!!!! :D

But yeah these Exotics still remains a far cry for us!! Even the first R1 hasn't hit the Delhi roads yet from the Yamaha Showrooms!!

But still the HotSteppers are great to be with.

Payeng said...

2008 Ninja 250R..

where art thou..??

Winder said...

I am an avid reader of urs and Payeng’s Blog!!… U guys have been an inspiration for me to write a blog expressing the views of an amateur on the Indian bikes and cars. Just when I was starting to write regularly, I moved to US a month back. The saddest part is, this is the most happening time in India with gr8 newz like Ducati, Yamaha R15 launches. But, I guess I wont miss the action as u r always there 2 keep me updated. Of course , all of us are sad that Payeng is closing down his blog.

As you said Rearset, that sports bikes are a lot cheaper in US compared to the price in India. But they dont sell as good as the cars here. You find the bikes are restricted to the enthusiast crowd. Perhaps it is because the fairly good infrastructure here. Roads are so good that if you don’t drive at the required speed you are fined! Mind you, not fined because you are speeding but because you are slow, slower than the traffic. With such good roads, one really needs guts and as well as talent to ride at high speeds on these freeways here. Also, its imperative that you should have your protective biking accessories on, before you take the bike from the garage. Not to forget, the huge bucks, insurances are going to cost each month.

Nevertheless, that’s good news for people like me, the dreamers!…Coz someday I could save enough money here to buy a bike for $15k, banking on the ability to save money faster in $ than in Rs. I will probably not need to wait my lifetime to get the bike, which I have to, if I am in India. But then, like everyone, I am also just dreaming and being too optimistic! For all I know, I could return back home to India even before I save enough for an R1 or Ducati replica to put on my desk!

Anonymous said...

you do know that completely different set of rules apply to the uber-rich folks?? the entire concept & value of money changes & none of your thoughtful analysis applies to shopping ...

yes it can seem to be an unfair world but take heart that everyone does get their karmic justice.

Nair said...

surprised eh!..... the dollar vs. pound conversion rate got me too....
I was checking out if it was possible to afford an SV650 after import duties.... says anywhere between 6000$ and 7000$ between the various versions.
MCN says 4600 pounds....
now thats 1.5 lakh diffrence before taxes.... :(

Killer said...

From personal experiennce i would agree. Recently got to put in some fast laps around the chennai track on a friends 1098S (write up here:, and though its no doubt a pretty special machine, i would rather put that money into doing up one of the jap bikes.


DynoJET said...

Your breakdown of prices was informative. However you are calculating as per the US MSRP of $15000. These Ducatis in India are coming straight from factory not bought at MSRP from US. So the cost price should drop to somewhere around $11-12000. that's 5 lacs + duties and taxes based on that figure.

Ducati India is just planning to fleece the id!ots who want to buy the most expensive bike for snob value.

Nadir said...

What sickens me is the IDIOT Indian governments determination to hold customs duties at a whopping 60% Base duty and with +++ additional Countervailing duties and cesses and taxes and what have you not, the total coming to close to 120% on the CIF value of the vehicle .
WHats the point when NO indian manufacturer is anywhere near this kind of product for generic R&D and production ?! The three Indian manufacturers that have done some R&D Bajaj (now Royal Enfield - after 60 years of selling the same wine in new bottles) and TVS are all fooling about in the SINGLE CYLINDER 100 - 500 cc space with absolutely NO real interest in higher capacity MODERN tech machines - so WHO is our Government protecting vis a vis local manufacturers (which is the ONLY reason a country should have high duties and countervailing duties imposed on an imported product)
The old minded thinking in New Delhi should now be put to pasture - the key guilty in this are Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Finance and Ministry of HEavy Industries (where these jokers came into making motorcycle import policy i will never know)
This is ALL for the benefit of FALSE protection of Indian manufacturers