Ducati is making a major change that could transform its business

Ducati North America CEO Jason ChinnockDucatiDucati North America CEO Jason Chinnock.

There are few brands in the world of motorcycles more sought after than Ducati.

Known for its line up of exotically styled, high performance motorcycles, Ducati has certainly captured the imagination of American consumers with 14% sales growth in 2015.

In fact, the US is Ducati’s top market — ahead of its homeland of Italy.

The man in charge of the historic Italian marque in the US is Ducati North America CEO Jason Chinnock.

Chinnock, a long-time Ducati-guy, rejoined Ducati North America as CEO in January after a couple of years at fellow Audi-owned brand Lamborghini.

Recently, Chinnock spoke with Business Insider about the Ducati and his career in the motorcycle and automotive industries.

On what Ducati stands for

According to Chinnock, the Ducati brand stands for three things: style, sophistication, and performance.

“When someone sees a Ducati, it must be unmistakably a Ducati,” Chinnock said about the style conveyed by his company’s bikes.

As for sophistication, Chinnock believes Ducatis are more than just an engine, two wheels, and a seat. “It’s about the engineering and the technology that allows riders have a great experience,” Chinnock said.

And then there’s performance. It’s the element for which Ducati is most famous.

“The brand is rooted in racing and performance is something that comes quite naturally to us,” he said. “Our aim is to build an emotional connection between the motorcycle and rider.”

On where Ducati is headed

While Ducati is best known for its sport and super bikes, the legendary Italian marque is set to explore a different segment of the market.

“The cruiser market is new to us, but it’s the single largest market opportunity for us in North America,” the chief executive said.

According to Chinnock, the cruiser market represents around 115,000 bikes annually and the brand would be very pleased with just one or two per cent of that pie.

“It will bring new people to the brand,” Chinnock added.

Ducati 1299 Panigale S Anniversario 55DucatiDucati 1299 Panigale S

The bike chosen to take Ducati into this new frontier is the new XDiavel. While cruisers aren’t necessarily known for the kind of fire-breathing performance synonymous with Ducati, Chinnock assured us that the new XDiavel “doesn’t compromise the company’s performance reputation.”

On his time at Lamborghini

In 2013, Chinnock left his position as Ducati North America’s sales and marketing development director to become a marketing manager at Lamborghini. He spent nearly three years at the supercar maker before returning to Ducati.

The executive told us that his time at Lamborghini was time well spent.

“I picked up the automotive industry’s attention to detail and high level of professionalism,” Chinnock told us. “In addition, it also allowed me to view Ducati more from the perspective of a consumer and gather new ideas for how to elevate the brand.”

On his time in the US Army

After graduating from Colorado State University, Chinnock served as a tank pilot in the US Army. According to Chinnock, his time in the Army instilled within him an added sense of discipline and team focus.

Ducati XDIAVELDucatiDucati XDiavel.

“It was an invaluable experience for someone between the age of 18-21,” he told us. “It helped me mould my drive and determination with an understanding that there was a whole world out there and that I could do anything I set my mind to.”

On the possibility of an electric Ducati

A couple of years ago, Harley-Davidson unveiled an electric motorcycle called the Project LiveWire. But Ducati isn’t quite ready to jump on that bandwagon yet.

Citing the sentiments of Ducati’s Global CEO Claudio Domenicali, Chinnock said that Ducati will go electric “when the technology is at a point where we can deliver an experience commensurate with the spirit of the brand.”

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