This Ducati is made in Thailand

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Back in March, Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali announced aggressive expansion plans that would increase the brand’s worldwide sales from 40 to 60,000 unit a year. To achieve that goal, Ducati planned to open up developing markets with two new factories. One in Thailand and one in Brazil. This Ducati Monster 795 is the first physical sign of that expansion. Not because its 796 engine in a 696 chassis makes it cheap enough ($10-12,000, with import duties, est) to sell in India, but because it’s the first modern Ducati to be made, or at least assembled, outside Italy. This Ducati was put together in Thailand.

Of course, Ducati isn’t the first premium manufacturer to manufacture a product in a developing market. The KTM 125 Duke is a notable example, as is the Honda CBR250R. Both manage to package the quality, performance and high-spec components those two brand are known for into bikes that can undercut rivals in traditional markets, but also close to the point of manufacture. By building the 125 Duke in India and CBR250R in Thailand, KTM and Honda are also opening up sales in potentially lucrative markets while avoiding the hefty import tariffs that have traditionally kept their bikes out.

In 2009, 8.4 million motorcycles were sold in India (Indicus Analytics) and about 2.2 million in Thailand (Honda). In the same year, only around 500,000 bikes were sold in the US.

Components like simpler clocks help further reduce cost.

Now, this Monster 795 and even the CBR250R and KTM 125 Duke are considered small volume, premium products in those markets, but with such volume, even a percentage point or two, total, could exceed any of these brand’s US sales. The Monster 795 will be sold in Thailand, China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malysia, the Phillippines, Vietnam and Singapore.

Perhaps most relevant to US enthusiasts, however, is the prospect of bikes made in developing markets reaching US shores. A KTM 350 Duke, presumably taking advantage of 125 Duke production processes and locations, will go on-sale here for model year 2013 and Thai manufacture helped Honda bring the CBR250R into the US this year for just $4k. That’s a brand new bike that’s able to undercut the Kawasaki Ninja 250, which last had an R&D budget associated with it in the 1980s. The Honda’s the higher quality bike, too.

Viewers with small children may want to take them out of the room. This is a Ducati with a double-sided swingarm. Oh, the humanity.

As the emphasis for motorcycle manufacturers shifts away from the US and European premium markets, we’re already seeing less frequent model development of the kinds of big, fast, expensive bikes we’re used to here. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the 125 Duke and CBR250R are anything to go by, even Ducati could soon be importing smaller-capacity, more affordable bikes to the US, and doing so from Asia.

  • paul

    Hey anything that makes nice bikes more affordable to the masses and puts more bike on the road is a good thing (as long as this doesn’t take work away from the Italian workers of course). As an aside I have always been really impressed with the amazing design architecture, graphics, fine arts and engineering I have seen in Thailand. The level of artisan-ship and attention to detail in all sorts of fields is amazing.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Goddamn, that is a lot of bikes sold in India.

  • nick2ny

    I don’t even like putting Asian *batteries* in my Ducati, let alone having an entire Ducati made there. Heck, I was upset that my KLR was made in Thailand, even though I love Thailand. This Ducati news is going to be very tough for me to deal with.

    • paul

      well I swapped all my Italian electrics for “asian” electrics on my 1978 Guzzi, and now I can ride every day ;)

      • nick2ny

        but at what cost?

        • Tony T.

          I’m not sure how a wiring harness contributes to the ‘passion’ of a bike, other than passionately hating the fact that the whole thing just caught fire under your butt.

  • Mike

    Great, this is going to give my incompetent dealer a whole new selection of excuses, regardless of if they bring models from Thailand to the US.

  • dux

    That sucking sound you hear is Ducati’s brand equity draining away…

    • 1

      Indeed. Did Ducati imagine that Ferrari would move production to thailand too. Errrrr

      Surely with their know how they could actually design whole new other brand with sexy aesthetics. Pimp and produce that off shore.

      Rossi’s worth has to be capitalised to the max and his salary has to get paid somehow, I guess. Ha ha ha.

      • dux

        I’m thinking an Ed Hardy Edition Diavel coming up next! Made in China!

        …with carbon fiber appliques covering every square inch of it…

    • BMW11GS

      not as big of a deal as you think…globalism dude…

      • dux

        Making a low-rent model part of a premium brand is a different idea entirely.

        • Chris

          It’s not really low rent, it’s lower manufacturing cost. The bike itself looks to be standard Monster fare with some localization changes to make it a better product for the market. That sounds like good business to me.

  • Dan

    Do you have any figures (or even a rough guess) for the size of the “premium” segment in those markets? My guess is that with 8M+ bikes /year sold (implying an enormous rider base) the premium market in these places must be trivially small in order to explain why manufacturers have ignored it for so long.

    • http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?gallery=vehicules tropical ice cube

      These countries are getting richer, and way faster than you, or me; the market for “serious” bikes used to be negligible, covered by local grey importers. As middle-class income raises, people who had for decades driven Honda Cubs will move away from the mopeds… And start to buy gas-guzzling Toyota SUVs, like any average westerner does. So the whole thing about these countries being traditionally huge consumers of motorcycles is a bit of a reach: Social status is all-important in Asia, and at the same time the very idea of 2 wheels rhymes with cheap, low class. Whatever the price you paid for the bike, a car would always get you more status. It will take years before mentality applies in such a way that buying HD or a Diavel will just means you have money to throw away out the window.

  • wwalkersd

    This Ducati is made in Thailand…. in a factory that is quite possibly under a meter of water.

    Is it? How are the Thailand floods affecting all these M/C production facilities?

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    Don’t forget Triumph. They’ve been building bikes in Thailand for years. If the 11th character of your vin is a T, it was made in Thailand. If it’s a J, it was made in England.

    • markbvt

      +1. And by all accounts, the Thai-made Triumphs are excellent quality. The factory is a wholly-owned Triumph facility, with quality control overseen by Triumph managers; as a result, excellent bikes are being turned out. No reason Ducati couldn’t do the same.

    • 85gripen

      I’m told all the “modern classics” series (Bonneville, Thruxton & Scrambler) are made in England but assembled in Thailand. The “Triumph Made in England” triangle logo on the engine is sans the “Made in England” part on my Thruxton.

  • jason

    better looking than a fat Diavel. Thailand must be a blessedly pirate free bike zone.

    • Toby

      Yep, it is. Though the locals do a pretty good impression of it on their chopped 400cc Honda Steeds… but that’s just entertaining.

      I actually enjoy the sound of a Harley ripping by now that it only happens once a month or so ;)

  • ike6116

    People can complain about “Brand equity” all they want. For my money I think the Monster 696 is one of the sexiest bikes there is.

    • BMW11GS

      agreed!

    • Chris

      Agreed! That’s why I ride one. I also, unlike most Ducati owners, like the symmetry of a double sided swing arm.

  • robotribe

    Fords and Chevys have been made in Canada and Mexico for maybe two decades now. VWs have been manufactured in various countries around the globe for decades. Hondas, BMWs and Nissans are made in the USA. My last Honda motorcycle was made in Italy and had Ducati electronic components.

    A Ducati is now made in Thailand.

    Whatever.

    • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

      Fords and Chevys have been made in Canada since before the second world war, my friend. A lot of other American stuff too, besides.

      But you are right, makes no difference. Hondas made in Ohio, BMWs made in China, and so on only proves that management is the deciding factor in quality industrial production, not nationality.

      M

      • robotribe

        Absolutely agree on the management comment; it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to quality.

  • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

    I have worked for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes, Avtovas, Fiat, and several other OEM’s as a designer working through a design house.

    If people only knew where some of their parts were manufactured, and how they are really manufactured, they would be really shocked.

    This is why I laugh inside every time a HD rider give me made in America BS. Their CPO forks are made at the same factory as my forks are in a large Chinese city called Chongqing. Same with Screaming Eagle parts. Triumph Exhausts? In a city called Guangzhou China, at my exhaust factory. This insider view has really given me some perspective on people buying habits based on false belief, and uninformed bullshit.

    Keep believe your Ducat is 100% Italian, your Harley is 100% American, and you world is 100% ignorant.

    Why does it matter where it is made? Some deep seated hatred for the people who are making it?

    If this makes a Ducati accessible to people in countries that otherwise could not afford them, then FUCK YEA, ride on. Hell, I would bet there are quite a few people out there what would love to ride an affordable (new) Duc.

    But then again, I am a bit biased as I do manufacture in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the USA……

    • Mr.Paynter

      Saw some Cleveland’s (Tha Heists) out here in South Africa!

      Taking over the world dude!
      Good looking bike at the price-point!

      Haven’t seen any marketing or anything though, I found them with google after seeing two in the flesh and recognising them from here!

    • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

      Shit, I may even consider buying a new Duc just knowing some Thai kid made it over some union asshole in a Puma jumper.

    • Core

      Its funny that you mention this…

      I think its because they hate jobs being shipped over seas, NOT that they have some deep ignorant hate for foreigners.. (although it could be both)

      The IRONY of the situation, is that if you research it… more taxes, and higher taxes, and regulations forced these companies to exit the US manufacturing market, all thanks to ignorant american voters.

      Note/disclaimer: Still researching and learning about economics/taxes.. and regulations.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Globalization is awesome; embrace it or fade away.

      Its especially awesome when the outcome is something like the Misfit.

      • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

        CCW will have made in the USA bikes in the next 2-3 years. But you did not hear it from me…… :)

  • Toby

    As a big-bike-starved expat in Thailand, I’m really excited about this. Triumph builds some bikes here too, but not for the domestic market. We still get to pay a 100% premium for those :(

    As for Asian vs. Western made goods: if you are knowledgeable enough to discern quality from crap, why moan about a factory moving elsewhere? If it’s crap, complain that it’s crap. If quality levels are preserved, you have nothing to bitch about. By the build quality of my CBR250, I’m pretty optimistic about Thai-made Ducs, but it would be pointless speculation to comment one way or the other til I see one.

    • nick2ny

      I know great stuff can be made in Thailand. It’s isn’t about quality. I’d rather have a crappy ducati made in Italy than a great one made in thailand, and I’m not kidding. I want the real deal. I want a Gibson guitar made in America, a Boeing made in America, Hunter boots made in Scotland, Wine from france, grado headphones from brooklyn and a walkman from Japan. I don’t want all of it to come from China. The local flavor just drains away to nothing when you can’t imagine the people who are making it. The exciting thing about these products is that they have the idiosyncracies of the countries they’re from. Those little tidbits are lost in translation (or kept but in a fake way) when manufacturing moves away.

  • Bill

    It’s sad to read that Ducati has joined the worldwide race to the bottom. Building their bikes in Thailand means they can let go of some of the well-paid union workers in Italy and will put pressure on the rest of them to accept less. And that they can use production methods that are environmentally hazardous without the pesky government standing in their way.

    The more this happens, the more fucked working class people are and the more fucked the planet is.

    I had always held Ducati in the highest esteem because they didn’t sell their soul to squeeze every last dollar of profit from every motorcycle made, like so many other manufacturer’s have.

    Now they’re just another corporation-whore. Very sad.

    • BMW11GS

      that is until wages globally reach an equilibrium…supply and demand among other things. The reason there are well-paid union workers in Italy is because they have created an artificial labor monopoly that is not sustainable nor truly beneficial. If someone can make something for less in another country let them make it! It will make it cheaper for everyone which in turn will raise the standard of living everywhere…unless of course only the west should have a high standard of living.

      • jeremy

        That’s pretty naive of you to think that the savings will be passed on to consumers and wont just end up in a corporate bank account.

        • BMW11GS

          And this money in the bank account does what next…?

          There are two answers to this one is fueled by an aversion to free trade and a market economy or another where this money in the bank is used for captializing one’s business.

          This investment can either be in the form of more employees or better technology that increase the efficiency of their operation. This is the economics of the situation, everything else is political.

          • Roman

            Please explain to me how this is a free trade decision, when the countries where the plants are being build have strong import tariffs and this is a way of getting around those tariffs. As far as where the extra profits will go, who knows. I think it’s highly naive to believe that all of it will go into R&D and payroll… Perhaps in Ducati’s case this is so, but plenty of corporations use their profits to hire lobbyists, dump money into political campaigns/PACs, and so on.

            There’s really no such thing as pure free trade and market economy. Business is possible because of conditions provided by a stable government structure, intellectual property protection, security, competent workforce, etc…. Pure laissez fair economy is a fantasy in the modern world.

      • Campisi

        It will make it cheaper for everyone… who will then need it to be cheaper, because their wages have been cut in order to counteract third-world wages elsewhere and Wal-Mart is the only place they can buy the ramen and corn-byproduct foodstuffs needed to fuel their entire working lives.

        … Nothing against Ducati or Thai workers, my CBR250 has been great. I’m just tired of people at my work showing up in their brand new executive sports sedans for the first of their two 3-hour workdays per week so that they can tell me that I need a wage decrease or they’ll hire someone desperate and screwed enough to do my job for minimum wage plus unpaid overtime.

        • BMW11GS

          Inequality is a tricky thing because as a low wage employee myself, it is sometimes, harder to see what those guys did that make them worth X amount of times more than any other hard working person.

          However, throughout history there have been periods like the industrial revolution where all of a sudden making cloth for example, became a lot less expensive at the cost of long hours in a factory under less than ideal conditions, working for less (perhaps) than they made before–Especially if you take into account the diminished leisure time and other non-monetary standards of living that the industrial revolution engendered.

          However over time advances in technology and the proliferation of wealth creation through trade and production, enabled a burgeoning middle class. I believe we are in another one of those adjustments, but we will eventually come out ahead if certain structural changes can be made. That however is where economics end, and politics begin.

          • Campisi

            I guess my main worry is that the growing economies where all the consumer action is taking place are also the ones with the labor rates that would be considered slave labor in the old-guard economies. I wish we could contribute to their growth without market forces decimating the non-wealthy everywhere else with the punitive wage reductions and higher work demands required to bring about labor-cost parity.

            In short, I’d rather level the playing field with fill dirt than a bulldozer.

            • BMW11GS

              I really like that analogy with the bulldozer v.s. fill dirt! And I think that is definitely a good point, I am worried about the short term too, and want to be pretty optimistic about long term, but you are right, there is a lot of tough questions that need to be answered about the way forward.

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    FYI, the Ninja 250 is also made in Thailand.

  • Archer

    Thai workers can be just as skilled and hard-working as any. My company recurve limb lead is a Thai immigrant (a former kickboxer) responsible for the highest quality Olympic bow limbs in the world, which we make in Salt Lake City (talk about a culture shock for the poor SOB!).

    Of course Honda puts the CBR250RR together there, and you’ll find it has all the fit, finish and reliability of a Honda that came out of the plants in Hamamatsu or Kyushu.

    And if you think native Japanese workers put your Honda or Suzuki together in Hamamatsu, I have news for you- most of them are Brazilians, Japanese in genes only.

    You have any idea how many Cote d’Ivoire natives work in Bologna and Varese? It’s pretty amazing.

    As for this:

    “I had always held Ducati in the highest esteem because they didn’t sell their soul to squeeze every last dollar of profit from every motorcycle made, like so many other manufacturer’s have.”

    …naïve much?

  • Mr.Paynter

    My Er-6N was built in Thailand I love it to death.

    It’s been solidly reliable and stuck by me just fine!

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    If this works, next year we’ll (hopefully) have the return of the 400cc monster.

    • http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?gallery=vehicules tropical ice cube

      Make sense. I used to own a ’94 Monster 400 in Cambodia; it was originally from Tokyo but built in Italy. At the time the Duc factory built 400s mainly for Japan, Indonesia and Italy, where the tax system was… taxing on bigger bikes. Now if bikers over there become as stupid as here, they will ask for more cc, and that will be the end of it.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        I think the global economy, price of petrol (reminder : france = $9/gallon) and environmental consciousness of rich countries may be an important factor.
        Also stupidy aside i think the tiered permit is still in effect in japan, so most riders can’t legally ride over 400cc anyway.

        An NC30 white-red-blue 400cc VFR is on my dream garage list, and it was somewhat available in england, but i’ve never so much as seen a 400cc monster in the flesh, they’re rarer than a unicorn around here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheese302 Cheese302

    i want to go home and check the vin on my triumph, would be weird if it were assembled in thailand, but at the same time, i’ll ride it and enjoy it. If this will allow more bikes to be sold cheaper, and get more riders on the road, go for it. i drive a german car built in mexico, and another car that probably roled off the line after a mazda 6, however they both serve me just fine. A british motorcycle made in thailand will work just fine as well.

    • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

      amen.

  • Roman

    I wonder how much tariffs play into all of this. Doesn’t sound like pure market-driven decision, but an attempt to gain a foot hold in lucrative markets by manufacturing there to get around the tariffs. I do think a lack of industrial policy in the states hurts our manufacturing base. While China and India make large companies pay the price to gain access to their markets and help them build up their manufacturing capacity, it seems that the US is almost the opposite. Allowing anyone to come in to come in and set up shop, while various home grown industries whither away.

    I’m sure it’s far more complicated than that, and there are costs/benefits to both approaches, but I can’t help but tie it back to the explosive growth in income inequality over the last 30 years, while well paying blue collar jobs in manufacturing continue to disappear.

  • Campisi

    Quality production is all about investment and management; after all, there is no biological reason why a human in Asia cannot assemble (or design, for that matter) a machine to the same standard as a human anywhere else. It doesn’t hurt Ducati’s brand cache in my mind… mainly because they have no brand cache in my mind.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Also, let’s not forget that most people don’t associate “Italy” with “reliable construction”. “Sexy” and “fast”, yeah. But not “reliable”.

  • TheZakken

    I had a triumph assembled in Thailand that never once gave me any trouble and resold thousands above blue book. I don’t even think these Thai assembled ducswill be available in the western market.