THE MOTORCYCLE PRESS has been unanimous in its praise of the new Ducati 1199 Panigale and Panigale S, retailing, respectively, for $17,995 and $22,995.
“The next sportbike revolution starts now, and the 1199 Panigale is leading the way,” wrote Motorcyclist’s Aaron Frank. Cycle World’s Mark Hoyer was just as stoked: “The Panigale represents a complete and wholly successful rethink of not just the V-twin superbike, but of superbikes in general. Power, handling, fit and finish, overall design, ease of operation — everything feels like a big step forward in this class.”
Jarel Jensen is owner of Ducati Omaha in Nebraska. His Top 100 store has been accepting deposits for the model since September. It presold 16 units, two-thirds of which were the S model that comes with electronically adjustable Ohlins shocks and lighter Marchesini forged wheels. Thirteen of the 16 buyers were previous Ducati owners. Jensen expects more conquest sales once he has a steady showroom supply for people to see and ride. He expects to sell out of the Panigale by early summer.
Ducati Omaha also is the first single-line dealership in North America to adopt Ducati’s new retail design for traffic flow, merchandising and shelving. “We are the prototype for this design,” Jensen says. “Ducati will be bringing other dealers here to see our design and promote it to other dealerships.”
What does Jensen think of Ducati’s new owner? “If they were going to get sold to somebody,” he says, “I’m glad it was a company like Audi that’s got a performance and racing background, and is financially stable. So it looks good from our perspective. Nothing’s changing as far as how the business is operating, at least in the short term.”
John Beldock is owner of Erico Motorsports in Denver, Colo., a multiline Top 100 Hall of Fame dealership that carries Ducati and other Euro brands. “I don’t know that the purchase is necessarily going to change the face of Ducati at all,” he says. “Audi is probably smart enough to see that Ducati has branded itself and is working as its own company.”
Beldock does hope Audi improves the software Ducati uses to communicate with its dealers, which he calls “pretty cumbersome.” Another exciting prospect: Audi will likely develop both retail and wholesale financing programs for Ducati retailers.
This story recently appeared in the Dealernews June 2012 issue.