I like the Ducs, but the price is way out of line.
BMW can get away with ridiculously high prices (maybe), but Ducati can't. I used to drive a BMW car, but I drive a Toyota now and I don't plan to change. (I also won't buy a Lexus, even though I can afford one.) I like to get value for my money. As long as the Japanese makers, and maybe even Korean and others in the future, deliver dependable nice bikes for a fair price, they will have my business. For background, I am a 55 year old man, settled in life with grown kids, and I can afford whatever I want, including a Harley. Harley doesn't provide enough value for the price either. I also do a lot of my own wrenching. I don't mind working with my hands, but Japanese bikes don't need a lot of coddling like others do. BMW cars are supposed to high on the dependality scale, but my BMW car was constantly needing repairs or adjustments so that was my first, and last, BMW. I loved the BMW performance and fun, but the car's lack of dependability wasn't worth it, even if the price had been cut in half. The Japanese makers have my car, truck, outboard motor and motorcycle business until they stop making dependable, well-engineered, products, including motorcycles, at a fair price.
Face it, Ducati is going to have to find a way to make their (lower &/or mid spec) bikes more price competetive with Japanese machinery. Otherwise, I see them going the way of the dodo. The lust for Italian style and traditions just isn't enough to keep them alive. My excuse for buying a Duc is the same reason I would never buy a HD; I can buy 2 Jap bikes of the same (or better) caliber for the same $$$.
it seems to me they have a positive cash flow. the loss can easily be explained i think by depreciation and currency losses. it's probably more accurate to observe that their margins got squeezed by a weak us dollar.
Aprilia is cheaper, has a nice style of their own, is italian, is much more comfortable, is much more reliable, etc...
Not to mention, some of the current Ducs are real honkers: The multistrada is grossly uncomfortable (in a style which is supposed to be supremely comfortable), the 749/999 is a love it or shove it sytle, etc.
Ducati have been going bust, or nearly, for as long as I can remember, and that goes back to the early 1970s - but somehow, they're still in business. Which simply proves that motorcycles don't necessarily follow the normal evolutionary pattern of improvement equalling company survival and prosperity. Don't write them off just yet: if they're making great bikes and they're almost bust, everything is normal.
I sincerely hope that Ducati can keep it together and say afloat fiscally. Just think what the 2003 Moto GP season would have been like with out Ducati giving a good run at Honda and the motorcycle world would be a lot less interesting without the innovation Ducati showed in the 916.
Given $25,000 to spend on a motorcycle how many sport bike riders would chose anything but the 999S.
A good friend of mine is a Ducati "nut". Has 3 in the garage and another on order. I have tried really hard to like them. The baby Monster almost does it. I agree with the value comments here. I don't think Ducati has the price/performance point right.
A more recent development in the world of Italian sportbikes is Aprilia. I've looked at all these bikes at a local Ducati/Aprilia dealer and decided that if I were to choose an Eyetie bike it would either be a Tuono or a Falco, not any of the Ducks. Ducati now has direct competition and it's only going to get worse.
I think the unique look and sound of a Ducati is one of the primary selling points. I find it difficult to differentiate the Japanese bikes from one another when viewed from any distance of greater than about 10 feet.