More seriously, though, Ducati is a company on the move, with sales up to 42,000 units in 2011 on the back of strong global growth and an impressive 42% sales growth in the important North American market. While that might not seem like a big number for a motorcycle manufacturer, it's worth noting that Ducati focuses exclusively on big-bore motorbikes and doesn't have volume leaders in the sub-600cc range.
But despite the crowing in press releases over Ducati's areas of expertise, there's very little there that's applicable to Audi's road cars. Audi already specializes in lightweight aluminum unibody construction, whereas Ducati's expertise is in tubular bike frames. And what works for high-strung motorbike engines is not necessarily applicable to car engines. Ducati's signature technology, the complex Desmodromic Valve System, may not be applicable to tightly packaged variable valve car engines. The rest of Ducati's engine engineering is a quaint mix of old-school design and new technology. Think "Harley Davidson" meets "Honda".
In the end, the decision may simply be one of pride. Ducati is one of the most profitable motorbike concerns, and the prestige value of the brand adds to the VAG Group's growing list of luxurious Italian marquees. While VAG has earned accolades for turning the fortunes of a floundering Lamborghini around, with Ducati, most of the work has already been done, and all that's needed is to give the company free reign to continue its explosive growth and to add value to Audi's already profitable portfolio.