Ducati to supply bikes for MotoE in 2023
It’s just been announced that Ducati have signed an agreement with Dorna Sports, the organisers of the MotoGP World Championship, to supply bikes for the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup. But not for a year or so. Starting in 2023, Ducati will be the ‘sole supplier of motorcycles for the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup the electric class of the MotoGP World Championship’. Yep, that’s right, from 2023-2026 the MotoE World Cup will be a one make series.
If I’m being honest, I’m not really very happy about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a lot of time for one make racing; I just don’t think it’s got a place at Grand Prix level. I know the Moto2 bikes are all using identical Triumph engines, but everything else about those bikes is proper bespoke.
Ducati didn’t divulge any technical details about the specification of the electric bike they’ll be supplying to the MotoE teams, (all they really said was that there would be a real focus on ‘lightness’). What they did do, was talk about how competition drives development and technical excellence; something that I absolutely agree with. But it’s like they have completely missed the point. If they are the sole supplier to the championship, who are they competing with? Where is the incentive to do better going to come from?
Ducati talk about how their V4 Panigale engine is directly derived from the 2015 Desmosedici GP engine, and that’s why it’s so good. I’ve got no qualms with that. But don’t try and compare it to this news (they did try and compare it). The 2015 Desmosedici engine was developed in competition, specifically to beat the opposition. If you’re developing a bike for a one make series, it doesn’t need to beat anything.
No, I’m sorry Ducati but the MotoE World Cup should be an absolute hotbed of development. There should be as many different manufacturers in there as possible, all striving to make more powerful electric motors, more efficient drivetrains, lighter batteries, etc. Because that is genuinely what the world needs. Electric motorcycles aren’t good enough yet to satisfy the needs of 99% of motorcyclists. But very soon, they’re going to have to be. So the development is so, so important. And that’s why MotoE is such an important class. In some ways, it’s more important, and more relevant to the future than MotoGP.
Ducati are trying to pass this off as a development program, to develop the best electric bikes known to man. But if they wanted to do that, it should be an open field. If anything, it’s a test bed for a prototype model, it’s certainly not a development platform. And it’s not doing the motorcycle industry any favours.
What this does mean though, is that Ducati are finally jumping on the electric bike band wagon. It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? And in all fairness, with the might of the Volkswagen Audi Group behind them, and the tech that ‘The Group’ will already have ‘in house’, they ought to be able to build something fairly sensible.
But don’t expect anything soon. They have said that their goal is ‘to study how to produce, as soon as the technology allows, a Ducati electric vehicle that is sporty, light, thrilling and able to satisfy all enthusiasts’. If you ask me, that’s a fairly open-ended statement; ‘as soon as the technology allows’. Because nobody really knows when that’s going to be. But most of us can probably agree that it isn’t yet.
In case you’re interested, Claudio Domenicali CEO of Ducati, said this about the announcement:
We are proud of this agreement because, like all the first times, it represents a historic moment for our company. Ducati is always projected towards the future and every time it enters a new world, it does so to create the best performing product possible. This agreement comes at the right time for Ducati, which has been studying the situation of electric powertrains for years, because it will allow us to experiment in a well-known and controlled field like that of racing competition. We will work to make available to all participants of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup electric bikes that are high-performance and characterized by lightness.
It is precisely on weight, a fundamental element of sports bikes, that the greatest challenge will be played out. Lightness has always been in Ducati’s DNA and thanks to the technology and chemistry of the batteries that are evolving rapidly we are convinced that we can obtain an excellent result. We test our innovations and our futuristic technological solutions on circuits all over the world and then make exciting and desirable products available to Ducatisti. I am convinced that once again we will build on the experiences we have had in the world of racing competition to transfer them and apply them also on production bikes
I forget which of the podcasts I listen to that talked about this a month ago. There doesn’t seem to be enough competition in the high end market yet. Maybe after this contract runs out, then it can become open. Yes we need competition in this field, we need the big 4 Japanese racing this series, but they are not yet there yet. Just like the first days of Moto2 though, when there were lots of frame manufactures, it has basically now become a one make series with Kalex, plus a couple of small players, 5 years after it becomes open, the teams and riders will want to run what wins.
It’s wise of Ducati, they have a jump on the big 4, even if they have to license the technology, maybe from triumph. It does signal also that a major manufacture is going after this, instead of these dedicated manufactures who only make electric bikes like Zero or Energica.
There’s a lot of potential here in the grand scheme of things.