Luxury bike maker Ducati’s ex-CEO becomes head of luxury arm of Volkswagen

The former chief executive of Ducati has been named to the position of “Group Brand and Commercial Management” for luxury brand VW Group – Mercedes-Benz parent Porsche included.

Olivier François, who had worked on numerous successful motorbike launches in the past in a 30-year career with Ducati – including the Battle of Britain series – will take over at Bugatti, the world’s highest-priced motorcycle, in May. He will inherit the “then most expensive motorcycle in the world” as well as two other German luxury brands: Lamborghini and Bentley. The former is Italy’s top-selling carmaker; the latter is the maker of the first post-war car – the 10,000-euro Continental.

In a job that requires detailed knowledge of luxury motoring and the deep-rooted culture of some of the brands, Mr. François had already spent time in super-car brands within the Volkswagen Group during his 10-year stint at Ducati, which has been owned by Volkswagen since 2012. It has a presence across Europe, Asia and North America, notably in super-high-end segment with track-ready sportbikes – but the bulk of its revenue comes from motorcycle and bike parts.

Reporting to Herbert Diess, VW group chief executive, Francois will set global strategy, marketing and communications for the brands. He has previously been announced as a key component of an expanded management team for the Group – the cornerstone of the VW Group’s recent restructuring under the command of Mr. Diess.

Reporting to Ms. Cramer, John Frank, member of the Board of Management for the region for VW group, and Thorsten Armes, member of the Board of Management for the Commercial Management Division of the Group, François will manage nine brands – VORO-VLKAF (Branded Vehicle, Motorcycle and Scooter Vehicle brands), MEZ (Mercedes-Benz Mercurys) VORO (Volkswagen Owners Club), Lamborghini and Bentley, as well as Fiat Chrysler (Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Maserati), PSA (Peugeot and Citroen), Suzuki, and Ducati.

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