Autos

What Will Mercedes Gain From a Stake in MV Agusta?

Visitors look at Italian motorcycle make
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Since BMW has a high-profile motorcycle division and Volkswagen AG has Ducati, it may have seemed inevitable when Reuters reported Daimler bought 25% of MV Agusta through the Mercedes AMG performance wing. The benefits for the Italian motorcycle brand are clear, but Mercedes has plenty to gain from the deal as well, including help in the battle to meet new emissions standards.

German bike race

Volkswagen, which owns luxury marque Audi, bought Italian sport bike maker Ducati in 2012 in an acquisition of yet another performance brand. At the Paris motor show, Volkswagen’s XL Sport concept showed how Ducati was more than a luxury accessory. The lightweight sports car uses a two-cylinder Ducati engine to power its carbon fiber body to 168 miles per hour with only 197 horsepower.

While there is little chance of seeing a two-cylinder engine in a Mercedes AMG supercar, the luxury automaker stands to gain a great deal from MV Agusta bike technology. Gordon Murray, the engineer behind Formula One racers, told Reuters, “Bike engines are ahead of cars in terms of their weight.” As Volkswagen showed with the XL Sport concept, small engines can still deliver high performance when the weight is low. The small engines in the MV Agusta line should also help Mercedes fill out the powertrains of its upcoming hybrids, designed to meet stricter emissions standards across the globe.

Benefits for MV Agusta

Selling a 25% stake to Mercedes offers MV Agusta numerous benefits as well. The Lago di Varese-based manufacturer has had financial troubles in recent years, so Mercedes and Daimler offer the estimable security of a large automaker. Giovanni Castiglioni, Chief Executive Officer of MV Agusta, said Mercedes AMG would help the bike maker “further expand globally and help accelerate our growth.”

GERMANY-AUTO-MERCEDES-AMG
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Mercedes AMG officials were equally enthusiastic in their statements about the new partnership. Adding a high-profile motorcycle brand to its performance wing naturally gives consumers another option when they would be considering BMW and Volkswagen brands for a new bike.

As Gordon Murray noted, the upcoming struggle for the top automakers will involve getting the weight down in vehicles to meet more stringent standards around the world. BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen all have electric cars debuting in the U.S. as a way of meeting the standards in the biggest market, California.

In the case of BMW, the range-extended version of the i3 electric vehicle involves a three-cylinder engine. With the i3, BMW has the most efficient vehicle sold in the U.S. at 124 miles per gallon combined electric equivalent. Mercedes may not have immediate plans for three-cylinder engines, but it undoubtedly will begin looking in the MV Agusta workshops to get a better idea how they might proceed in that direction.