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Daimler buys stake in Italian motorcycle maker

FRANKFURT, November 1, 2014

Daimler AG has annoucned plans to buy 25 per cent of Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta - the latest sign that motorbike and car technologies are converging, driven by a push to lower emissions and improve safety.

Buying into Agusta gives Stuttgart-based Daimler access to high-performance, lightweight technology, including three-cylinder engines developed for Italian superbikes.

Daimler said stake would be bought via its Mercedes-AMG performance cars unit and the company will take a seat on the board at Agusta - a legendary name in the sport of motorcycling, having won at least 75 world championship rider and constructor titles.

It did not disclose the financial terms and said it was part of a broader cooperation deal between high-end brands Mercedes and Agusta which would mainly focus on marketing and sales.

Daimler says Agusta's motorbike engines are unlikely to be used in its Mercedes passenger cars any time soon - however tougher anti-pollution rules have increased interest among carmakers in the lightweight construction technology and compact engines, which could be used as "range extender" add-ons to complement electric engines in hybrid vehicles.

The Daimler deal follows moves by rival automakers to add superbike technology to high-end German sportscars, known for their solid build quality but also their thirst for fuel in an era of tighter anti-pollution rules.

In 2012 Volkswagen, which owns the Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti brands, bought Italian motorcycle maker Ducati for 860 million euros. At the Paris Motor Show this year, VW unveiled the high-tech XL Sport car equipped with a 200 horsepower two-cylinder Ducati engine.

Famed race car engineer Gordon Murray - who put a motorbike engine in a sportscar known as the Rocket in 1992 and also designed the three-seater McLaren F1 - said motorcycle engines could be adapted to work in certain cars.

"Bike engines are ahead of cars in terms of their weight. And for the car industry shedding weight is the final frontier."

Motorcyle makers are also ahead of the car industry in terms of the way they use plastics, rather than metal for structural parts, Murray told Reuters.

"With bike makers suffering from lower production volumes it makes sense to work with a large car maker which has resources," he added.-Reuters




Tags: Italy | Stake | Daimler | Motorcycle |

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