According to a press release issued by Ducati, the Italian brand will be the official supplier of motorcycles for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup starting in 2023.
I had been wondering who would be taking the reigns when I heard that Energica was out after the next season, and was very much not expecting this. Why you ask?
Ducati does not have an electric motorcycle yet.
When Energica entered the series as the exclusive motorcycle, they had a couple years of production under them and were selling motorcycles worldwide. I had the chance to ride the street version of the machine used in MotoE as well as its sister bike, and they were both awesome bits of technology. Everything worked, nothing broke, and I had as much fun as I could cram into a single charge of the battery of each. I can't say the same about Ducati's reliability.
Every. single. time. I have test ridden a Ducati, I have encountered an electronic issue with the first bike I was supposed to ride. Granted I have only been offered two rides as a journalist from Ducati directly, probably because I didn't hide the fact that I had issues before I even left the lot the first time. The first one was a Multistrada back when I was writing for a now defunct magazine. As I rolled away from the parking area I noticed that the ABS, TCS, and every other abbreviation light was glowing like a tree on xmas morning. Not being briefed on what the dash was supposed to look like upon firing up the machine, I assumed that there was some sort of speed sensor that needed to be triggered and all would be well. Nope. It sputtered as I twisted the throttle, and I pulled over 20 yards from where I began. I found out later in the day that the throttle position sensor was bad, and because the ECU didn't know what the throttle was doing, it went into panic mode. Fair enough. They put me on another Multistrada shortly after, and that machine was flawless and a blast to ride for the remainder of the day. I still kinda want one. The second time was supposed to be a brand new Ducati V4s at the Brno Circuit. I was the second rider signed up for the beast, and I was stoked. I knew the first rider, so I was at the pit wall taking photos. He came around for the first lap, and clickclickclick went my shutter. He then stopped coming around. Fearing that my friend may have crashed, I started walking in the general direction of the garage. Before I could ask if he was alright, he said "I broke the Ducati". He went on to explain that shortly after my shutter went clickclickclick, the dash became aglow with abbreviation lights as he was downshifting into the fairly fast turn one. With every light on, the bike got confused and wouldn't let him shift...even with the clutch. He completed a lap of the Brno Circuit in 4th gear and parked the bike. While I don't know the exact specifics about what failed on the V4s, I did hear the guy in charge from Ducati saying "no electronics, no shift", his inflection getting more heated with each repetition. And believe me, he was repetitive. With the first bike waiting for people from Ducati Italy to show up and figure out what failed, I instead went out on the streetfighter version of the V4s. I had more fun in that one session than I did in the combined three days on the other bike that I had been riding. It was a seriously good bike and I will be doing a full review of the Streetfighter here in the future.
There is no doubt that Ducati can make beautiful and fun performance machines. Given the success in MotoGP recently, there is no doubt that they can build a race bike. I just have not been overly instilled with confidence about their electronics, which I would imagine would need to be spot on in an electric bike.
Let's hope they can continue their tradition in letting their race development influence their street offerings in the form of upgraded battery tech, and that my 100% first bike electronic failure rate experience was due to my lighting wit and electric personality. Full Press Release below:
Borgo Panigale, Bologna, 21 October 2021 – Ducati is thrilled to announce the beginning of its electric era: starting from the 2023 season it will be the sole official supplier of motorcycles for the , the electric class of the MotoGP™ World Championship.
The agreement signed with Dorna Sports, organizer and promoter of the most important international two-wheel racing championships, lasts until 2026 and will therefore cover four editions of the MotoE World Cup.
This is a historic step for the Borgo Panigale motorcycle manufacturer which, following its custom of using racing competition as a laboratory for technologies and solutions that then become reality for all motorcyclists, enters the world of electric bikes starting from the sportiest sector, that of the electric class of the MotoGP World Championship.
The goal is to develop expertise and technologies in a constantly evolving world such as the electric one, through an experience familiar to the company like that of racing competition. This has been a consolidated tradition for the Borgo Panigale company starting from the Ducati 851, which inaugurated the trend of Ducati road sports bikes by revolutionizing the concept with its innovative two-cylinder water-cooled engine, electronic fuel injection and the new twin-shaft, four-valve heads, deriving from the Ducati 748 IE bike that made its debut in endurance races at Le Castellet in 1986.
Since then, this endless transfer of expertise has always taken place from the Superbike World Championships, in which Ducati has participated since the first edition in 1988, and from MotoGP, in which Ducati is the only non-Japanese motorcycle manufacturer to have won a World Championship.
The crossover is also evident in the most recent and prestigious products of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer: the V4 engine of the Panigale is in fact strictly derived in its entire construction philosophy – from the bore and stroke measurements to the counter-rotating crankshaft – from the engine that debuted on the Desmosedici GP in 2015. The V4 Granturismo that equips the new Multistrada V4 was then derived from the Panigale engine. All the vehicle control software is also directly derived from those developed in the racing world. Not to mention the field of aerodynamics.
The technological solutions developed in the world of racing, transferred to the products that make up the range, allow Ducati to offer its enthusiasts extremely high-performance and fun-to-ride motorcycles. The FIM Enel MotoE Championship will also be no exception in this regard and will allow the Company to develop the best technologies and test methodologies applied to sporty, light and powerful electric motorcycles.
At the same time, the fact that Ducati forms part of the Volkswagen Group, which has made electric mobility an essential element of its 2030 “New Auto” strategy, represents the best prerequisite for an extraordinary exchange of expertise in the field of electric powertrains.
The announcement of the agreement was made during a joint press conference in the press room of the Misano World Circuit ‘Marco Simoncelli’ on the eve of the Made in Italy and Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the third to last round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports, and Claudio Domenicali, CEO Ducati Motor Holding, were both present.
Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding: “We are proud of this agreement because, like all the first times, it represents a historic moment for our company. Ducati is always projected towards the future and every time it enters a new world, it does so to create the best performing product possible. This agreement comes at the right time for Ducati, which has been studying the situation of electric powertrains for years, because it will allow us to experiment in a well-known and controlled field like that of racing competition. We will work to make available to all participants of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup electric bikes that are high-performance and characterized by lightness. It is precisely on weight, a fundamental element of sports bikes, that the greatest challenge will be played out. Lightness has always been in Ducati’s DNA and thanks to the technology and chemistry of the batteries that are evolving rapidly we are convinced that we can obtain an excellent result. We test our innovations and our futuristic technological solutions on circuits all over the world and then make exciting and desirable products available to Ducatisti. I am convinced that once again we will build on the experiences we have had in the world of racing competition to transfer them and apply them also on production bikes.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports: “We are very proud to announce Ducati as the new, single manufacturer for the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup. With their incredible racing history, it is an honour to welcome this commitment from one of the best-known manufacturers in the paddock and to take on this new challenge together. We are eager to see what the future has in store and continue to watch this technology develop and grow, with the MotoGP paddock and MotoE continuing to drive innovation and evolution in the motorcycling industry – at the same time as creating an incredible on-track spectacle.”
This first step of Ducati in the world of electric bikes will also have an influence on the evolution of the product range. Now, the most important challenges in this field remain those of the size, weight, autonomy of the batteries and the availability of charging networks. Ducati’s experience in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup will be a fundamental support for product R&D, together with the physiological evolution of technology and chemistry. The goal is to study how to produce, as soon as the technology allows, a Ducati electric vehicle that is sporty, light, thrilling and able to satisfy all enthusiasts.