Editor's Note: Ducati has enjoyed a rebound during the past few years, capped by brand sales that have nearly doubled in North America since 2003. Claudio Domenicali, product general manager at Ducati Motor, has been involved in both vehicle development and production since 2004. He recently used the company's online blog to explain the philosophy behind Ducati's new operating environment.
The following is a selection from his post, edited for brevity and clarity. "The first thing I did, in late 2004, was to bring our product development strategy into sharper focus. All the right elements were there, of course, it's just that they had become a bit, how shall we say, blurred. I even gave the philosophy a name — a name designed to sweep away any doubts about its contents. The philosophy is called "Back to Basics."
So what does "Back to Basics" mean? It means putting the key brand characteristics — design, quality of finish, performance, riding enjoyment, braking etc. — right at the center of new product development.
Riding enjoyment means lightweight motorcycles. Weight is something of an obsession for us. On the design side we've drawn up a formal brief, which has also been given a name: "Reduce to the Max."
"Reduce to the Max" means that product design must comply with certain characteristics. It must be "authentic," only "real" details must be present. So, for example, imitation carbon fiber is out. Anything unnecessary is banned. The bike should even look light.
The "beautiful, simple and top-class" approach is an essential element of strategy. So much so, in fact, that design and fit-and-finish are of prime importance.
Developing products according to "Back to Basics" and motorcycles with "Reduce to the Max" design is our gospel and dictates the way everyone in product development works.
When you take a close-up look at a 1098 Tricolore with its rich paintwork, forged aluminum rims, Monobloc brake calipers, digital instrument panel — identical to the one on the GP7 — a fabricated single-sided aluminum rear swingarm that looks like a sculpture, 160hp and weighing 171kg, well, it's evident that it's a well thought-out piece of machinery; designed, built and assembled in a factory where the personnel love nothing more than great-looking, simple, prestige motorcycles.
All the motorcycles launched since implementation of the "Back to Basics" philosophy comply with it. Or, at least, we've done our utmost to make sure they do. So that means the 1098, the Hypermotard, the D16RR, and now the Monster 696, the 848 and the 1098 R.
I hope these notes help illustrate the line being taken by the company. While these observations are by no means exhaustive, they do sum up the Ducati philosophy as it stands today. I sincerely hope that the unbridled passion for motorcycles — that we strive to improve every day with respect for ideas that might diverge from our own — is a little more evident. In the end, decisions have to be made. Rest assured that we'll do our utmost to ensure they comply with the principles outlined above."
See www.ducati.com for Domenicali's entire post and more from the Ducati blog.
Editor's Note: Click here to read about Ducati NA's record sales year.