Daimler buys into Agusta as motorbike and car tech converge

Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:37pm EDT
 
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By Edward Taylor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE: Quote) will buy 25 percent of Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta IPO-MVAG.MI - the latest sign that motorbike and car technologies are converging, driven by a push to lower emissions and improve safety.

Daimler said on Friday it would buy the stake via its Mercedes-AMG performance cars unit and 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.

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

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 (VOWG_p.DE: Quote), 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.

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A Mercedes-Benz logo and sign are seen at a dealership in downtown Shanghai August 5, 2014.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria