Motorcycle Maker E-Sells Year’s Inventory In Hours

On January 1st at 12:00:01, Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor SpA (NYSE: DMH), put its latest model — a limited edition of 1,000 bikes — up for sale on its Web site.

Within hours, the company’s MH900evoluzione, dubbed the MH900e, sold out for the entire 2000 production year, giving it the distinction of being both the largest Italian e-commerce transaction and the first motorcycle offered exclusively on the Internet.

Most of the limited edition bikes will ship to Japan, North America and Europe. Japan gobbled up about 38 percent of the orders. Europe grabbed 30 percent, while North America took about 27 percent. Orders also came from Australia and New Zealand.

Well Beyond the First Year

In addition to selling out the first year of production on the MH900e, Ducati took hundreds of future reservations for subsequent model years. Due to this surprise success, Ducati plans to take advantage of the Web for future sales.

“Ducati is thrilled about the wild success of the sale of the MH900e,” said Federico Minoli, Ducati’s chairman and CEO. “We always thought that the Internet would be the best way to take the excitement of the MH900e directly to our enthusiasts. But even I have to admit, the response has beaten expectations.”

Orders Taken with Deposits

To consummate their orders, buyers had to place 10 percent credit card deposits on their motorcycles, which will become available this summer. The MH900e costs about $15,000 (US$). Arthur Andersen and IBM were two of Ducati’s partners in the initiative.

Once confirmed, each order for the MH900e will be sent to the Ducati dealer that was pre-selected by the buyer. The dealer will then conduct the final checks on the motorcycle before turning it over to the buyer.

Hand-Built Limited Edition Model

The MH900e is a hand-built, limited production motorcycle that is designed to look similar to the racing bikes used by the late Mike Hailwood on the Isle of Man. The neo-classical design includes elements of the traditional Italian and English bikes. “The bike celebrates our decades-long racing heritage and commitment to performance,” said Minoli.

Although it has a traditional design, the motorcycle incorporates state-of-the-art technology and a computer controlled engine management system. The bike prototype was presented to the public in September 1998 and has since received high customer demand. The interest from enthusiasts is what originally prompted Ducati to present the bike for sale over the Internet.

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