There are signs of recovery in Italy’s car market, and plugin vehicle registrations went up at the end of the first half of the year as part of that. With a new incentive scheme becoming fully operational, sales of electrified powertrains were widely expected to pick up, and so it was.
Originally published on opportunity: energy.
June’s official statistics released by UNRAE showed positive results for the advancement of electric mobility in Italy. Following a few months of high uncertainty, June marked the first month of what could be a new era of stable growth for electric cars, following the recent launch of new, albeit reduced, financial incentives for low-emission vehicles. This is not to say that Italy’s car market is in healthy shape. Overall registrations fell to fewer than 129,000, down about 15% year-on-year (YoY) from almost 151,000 a year ago. Internal combustion engine (ICE) powertrains, while down some 20% YoY in absolute numbers, stabilized in terms of market share, with petrol and diesels at 29.2% and 20.7% respectively (down slightly from 30.2% and 22.5% twelve months prior). Full and mild plugless hybrids fell slightly to 29.1%, losing their place as the most popular powertrain to petrols for the first time in a year. A temporary glitch?
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) scored their highest figure so far in 2022, 6,190 registrations. While this still meant an 11.9% reduction YoY, it was sufficient to actually increase share YoY to 4.8% in this weak market. Pent-up demand is surely responsible for this good result, at least in part. Lots of potential BEV customers were waiting for the new incentive scheme, and were able to complete their purchase with a discount. We might see some “turbulence” in the coming months as the auto market stabilizes deliveries under the new fiscal regime, not least thanks to incessant talks of recession having an effect on purchase decisions. Full electric cars should, however, see positive results going forward, if carmakers will again focus their attention on BEVs and feed customers’ appetites with sufficient production numbers throughout the continent.
Plugin hybrids once again scored better than full electric cars, with 7,073 registrations. This result was only marginally lower than last year’s, which helped PHEVs increase their market share to 5.5% (it was 4.7% twelve months before). Ongoing focus by legacy carmakers, along with a customer base yet to be convinced, are giving PHEVs the edge, something that will probably continue for a while, particularly as the economy heads into newly uncertain times.
With these good performances, overall plugin registrations reached their best result in the first six months of 2022, 10.3% combined market share. June’s BEV top 10 reflects typical model spikes of a quarter end, along with a spicy new entry.
The Fiat 500 again topped the sales chart, but it wasn’t an easy win. With 781 registrations, it ended with a very slim advantage over the way pricier — and un-incentivized — Tesla Model Y, second with 769 units. Tesla’s best selling model is now at its second show of strength in two consecutive quarter ends, something that is likely to continue going forward, since these results are coming outside of the new BEV subsidy regime (limited to models below €35,000 plus VAT). The ever-present Smart ForTwo closed this unusual podium race with 723 registrations, confirming its undiminished desirability in this minicar-loving country.
Off the podium, the Tesla Model 3 followed in fourth position with 374 units. Far from its past quarter peaks, the best selling BEV in the world is now facing headwinds, given its record 20% price increase over recent months (adding €10,000 to its 2021 price), and coupled with exclusion from the new round of government incentives . There may be an additional element of scarcity, as the Model 3 looks sold out for months to come, with deliveries for new Italian orders now going to early 2023. We may see it bounce back in future quarters as Tesla’s Berlin gigafactory ramps up and inflation eases after its peak.
A bunch of French models followed in the lower positions, with the brand new Renault Megane E-Tech making its Italian debut in eighth place with 189 registrations. The interesting hatchback is a welcome entry, a C-segment contender to the VW ID.3, itself present in tenth place with 170 units.
With four upper-segment models, one wonders if fully electric cars are finally making their way to a broader, mainstream audience in Europe’s fourth largest auto market. While certainly a good sign, current economic uncertainties and the local, rocky market dynamics mean a shift in Italy’s pace of EV adoption is still to be confirmed.
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