Sales of electric vehicles in Italy are going through a turbulent period. We explain headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds to you in the monthly sales report below.
Originally published on opportunity: energy.
All is not well in this hot Italian summer, as Europe’s fourth-largest car market continues to show signs of weakness in the transition to electric mobility. While all of Europe is seeing clear signs of fatigue, due to slowing economies amid the Russian and energy wars, Italy is now seeing a more dramatic decline, directly affecting electrified vehicles.
As shown by the latest UNRAE data, the Italian car market remained stable in July. Overall sales reached just over 111,000 units, in line year-over-year (YoY) with the nearly 112,000 July 2021 registrations. This should not be confused with a sign of health, however, as pre-covid sales levels for the same month of 2019 had over 150,000 listings, meaning it was actually down almost 28% from the peak. Those times are unlikely to return.
Fossil fuel powertrains (ICE) saw a partial reversal of their long-term downward trend: gasolines actually rose year-over-year to 29.9% (vs. 27.3%) while diesels fell to 20.7% (from 22.8%), an unusual occurrence in what had so far been a steady retreat on both fronts. Traditional plugless hybrids reaffirmed their status as the best-selling powertrain, with 33.1% market share, up from 29.3% a year ago. This follows a weaker June when they temporarily lost the crown to gasoline powertrains.
All-electric vehicles suffered an unforeseen and quite significant setback. With just 3,617 registrations, BEVs earned a paltry 3.3% market share, plummeting 29.5% year-on-year from over 5,100 units in July last year, when they achieved 4.6% market share. Worse still, it comes as a new – albeit limited – incentive program for low-emission vehicles is fully operational. Just a month prior, the June BEV market was boosted by these same incentives to achieve the highest result since the start of the year. While pent-up demand, satisfied during a June frenzy, may have led to lower registrations in July (some “turmoil” was indeed expected), the larger question is whether the market is more affected by erratic supply or weak demand. .
Plug-in hybrids have followed the same fate as BEVs, but with better results. 5,133 PHEV units were registered in July, for a market share of 4.6%. This means volume is down more than 19% year-on-year from over 6,300 registrations the year before, when PHEVs reached 5.7% market share. PHEVs continue to outsell BEVs on a monthly basis in 2022, and it looks increasingly unlikely that this trend will change in the near term. Overall, plug-in registrations in July stopped at 7.9% market share, the lowest point since February – when incentives were still being discussed. Their volumes were down nearly a quarter year-on-year, with plugins hitting 10.3% in July 2021, the highest score so far in the year.
In this month of unexpected ebb, July’s Top 10 BEV chart shows subdued numbers and a few new patterns.
Beating all competitors, the Fiat 500e won with 778 registrations, far ahead of all other models. Although well below last year’s highs, the Italian mini still managed to keep a great distance with the second Smart ForTwo, second with only 304 units. Third welcome, the Renault Twingo ZE is on the podium for the first time since January.
At the foot of the podium, the new Renault Mégane E-Tech takes fourth place with 234 units, a good performance in this sluggish market, and perhaps a harbinger of good results to come? New entry in the Italian top 10, the elegant Cupra Born (Spanish brother of the Volkswagen ID.3) took sixth place with 126 registrations. It is certainly a model to follow, with its strong aesthetic potentially more attractive to Italian customers than that of its German counterpart. The Ford Mustang Mach-E reappeared in the rankings after a long absence, with 97 units placing it in ninth position. Finally, Opel’s Mokka-e also made its debut, taking the lowest rank in the top 10 with 94 units. It’s also a model to keep on our radar, as it may start shipping in volume in the future.
July’s chilly breeze in the Italian EV market delivered unwanted news that immediately cast doubt on the start of an uptrend that seemed predictable only a month ago, as a strong performance in June prompted optimism. Whether this negative outcome is just temporary turbulence, resulting from logistics and supply issues, is open for debate at this time. We will see in the coming months whether electrified powertrains can recover or continue to fight for market share, as we head into a very difficult winter season across Europe.
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