While Mercedes unveiled its new CLS63 AMG don’t-call-me-a-four-door at the LA Motor Show last night, a hayseed from Kentucky snuck onstage with one of them new-fangled motor sickles and prompted a surprise announcement. Mercedes and Ducati are apparently going to be partners.
Update: according to Mercedes' Twitter feed, "AMG announces sponsorship of Ducati MotoGP team with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in 2011."
Update 2: full details thanks to Jeremy at Autoblog.
Update: Here's official details of the partnership:
"The first visible results of the cooperation between AMG and Ducati will be joint marketing and sponsoring activities. AMG will support the Ducati MotoGP team as an Official Car Partner from 2011, for example. During selected AMG events, participants will be able to take test drives with Ducati motorcycles, and Ducati customers will similarly have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the latest AMG high-performance cars at events."
“Both companies share the same values,” said Ola Kallenius, the unhelpful CEO of AMG, Mercedes’ performance division. “Racing as the driving passion, and high performance plus exclusivity as the central brand messages of both AMG and Ducati.”
Nicky Hayden followed up with a quote that sadly didn’t included the word ‘shucks’, “Well, if this is my company bike and this is my company car, I'd say I'm doing pretty well.”
What’s not clear is, aside from being partners, what being partners means for Ducati and Mercedes, they didn’t go into details. The deal definitely isn’t a parternship-of-equals style purchase, but rather some sort of marketing link up. Conventional wisdom leads towards some sort of FIAT/Yamaha like MotoGP sponsorship, but it could equally amount to some sort of lifestyle marketing project. Both Ducati and AMG pursue an identical demographic: middle-age or older wealthy men who want to advertise their success with an image of performance.