A view from Italy on the electric car market – by Cristina Riva

 In Auto Sector News

As part of broadening our perspective, we’ve asked one of our Italian contacts to write a blog this week – on the Italian view of Electric Cars.  We hope this will be the first of series giving views from across Europe.  Thank you, Cristina

Electric cars are rising in popularity all over Europe, with Italy – homeland of the “iconic” F1 race cars – being no exception.

Electric cars are becoming a common sight in Rome’s – and most Italian – parking lots. Electric cars are going to spark a revolution in the automotive world as we know it, bringing it right into the future where problems like fuel disposal and pollution are dealt in an “ecological hi-tech” fashion.

So it’s not really a surprise that their trending popularity did not exempt Italy, where the car building industry has reached world-wide known peaks (just think of Ferrari!) and technologic enhancements are seen as an inspiring opportunity for market growth.

Italy is discovering electric cars with gusto. In the last few years, there was a definite peak in the development, production – and, of course, in the sales.

Already back in 2015 an analysis by Frost & Sullivan was reporting how electric cars were doing globally well, with Italy showing a marked interest in their direction.

According to Unrae , the electric cars market in 2018 recorded a startling +148% – which in 2019 decreased to “just” +61%. The descending curve was there for sure, but it’s still significant that even the somewhat “conservative” Italians are being swayed in favour of electric cars.

Another insightful detail was that not only the cheapest electric cars were selling well but, surprisingly, also the more advanced (and costly) models were getting noticed. Italians might want to take their time before making the switch from fuel to electric – but when they do switch, it seems, it’s still to fulfil their dreams of larger, more powerful cars for long travels, job, and family.

Both Renault, Tesla, BMW and Nissan scored pretty well overall – with the Renault Zoe being the highest selling electric car last year in Italy.

However, there is still a long way to go. Electric cars are still a minority in the “Belpaese”, as Italy calls itself. The latest estimated market figures are that just 0,5% of the overall Italian car sales are electric cars. In no small way this is due to the prices, which are still more expensive than the average fuel-powered car market.

But change is right around the corner, and electric cars are seeping in to Italy’s lifestyle more and more even as these words are typed. Recently, the fully electric – and fully 3D-printed – state-of-the-arts bus “Olli” was ground-tested on the Turin streets (but we’ll tell you more about that in a future post).

The future belongs with electric cars. Their versatility is opening yet new paths in public and private transports alike. With the advent of a new wave of AI powered cars, technology is thriving to make the vehicles of tomorrow both flexible and sophisticated, reliable and eco-friendly.

And just two months into 2020, the Italian car market seems to be driving in the right direction already.