As Tampa Bay sales grow, sport bike maker Ducati plans giant dealership
TAMPA — There are pickup markets and there are sports car markets. Tampa Bay, Jason
TAMPA — There are pickup markets and there are sports car markets. Tampa Bay, Jason Chinnock said, has traditionally been a pickup market — a market that typically valued utilitarianism and convenience over the flash of a sportier brand.
“We historically haven’t done a great job in Tampa for many, many years,” said the CEO of Italian motorcycle maker Ducati’s North American operations. “We knew that we were underperforming. We saw that the market evolved to the point where more investments could be made in order to be able to grow.”
Two years ago, a new dealer took over the market. Last fall, the company opened a new showroom on Adamo Drive. And this spring, the company aims to break ground on a new, 18,000-square-foot dealership closer to Ybor City and downtown Tampa.
‘We’ve doubled our market share the last two years, and our sales have almost tripled in the last two years, which has been incredible, compared to how we were managing it before,” Chinnock said. “The market’s flat and our sales have grown. That means we’ve taken sales from somebody else.”
Ducati isn’t the only vehicle maker ratcheting up its presence in the evolving Tampa Bay market. This month, Tesla opened a more than 100,000-square-foot showroom, service center and storage facility in Lealman. In December, Swedish electric vehicle maker Polestar held a grand opening for its new showroom at Midtown Tampa.
Florida, along with California, has long been one of the nation’s top motorcycle-buying markets, although sales remain dominated by brands like Harley-Davidson, Honda and Yamaha. That Ducati — a brand made by the same company as Lamborghini, and best known for its presence in the racing world — is peeling sales away from those other companies suggests the local market is getting younger and more affluent, Chinnock said.
“They’re buying access to a world, which is more a lifestyle and a brand than it is just a piece of machinery,” he said.
Chinnock was in Tampa this month as part of an 18-city tour of North American dealerships, where the company invited Ducati owners and enthusiasts to its current Adamo Drive showroom to check out new bikes. The events, he said, give him face time with dealers and riders alike, helping the company collect feedback about what’s happening in a given market.
Principal dealer Trever Varney said the hands-on approach is a good way to keep building the brand’s visibility — as is the planned two-story dealership on a four-acre lot at 5710 E Adamo Drive. He calls it “the nicest motorcycle dealership you’ve ever been to,” more similar to a car dealership than a motorcycle dealership.
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“With all the development they’re doing in Ybor, coming this way to Brandon, looking 10 years ahead, in 10 years, it’s going to be big,” he said. “I’m very excited.”
Chinnock said Tampa isn’t Ducati’s only rising Florida market. Miami has always been strong, and the brand regularly hits race events in Daytona Beach. But Orlando, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee are also seeing sales bumps.
In Tampa, where Ducati sales have more than doubled this decade, he believes a new, dedicated dealership can help them double again.
“You see the permanency of the investment, and as a client that’s buying a brand, that’s important,” he said.