Plugin Vehicle Sales Near 12% In Italy As Car Market Declines

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The EV market in Italy maintained a fast pace of growth in November, while overall car sales continued their decline — in tune with most other European countries. As internal combustion engines (ICE) keep their downward trajectory, a new normal seems to be taking place: fewer overall sales, more electrified ones.

Fiat 500e in Italy

italy fiat 500 electric car
Image courtesy of Fiat.

Official statistics from UNRAE for the month of November show no mercy. The fast, relentless pace of change means yet another month goes with a substantial decline in registrations year on year (YoY), much to the detriment of traditional ICE options and in favour of all of their electrified counterparts. Fewer than 107,000 cars were in fact registered in Italy last month, down by a whole 24% compared to the more than 140,000 units recorded a year ago. Petrol and diesel engines were down to 26.9% and 19% market share, respectively, in line with recent trends. Traditional plugless hybrids scored 31.4%, confirming their status as the most popular powertrain.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) recorded 6,958 registrations in Italy, a 44.3% increase YoY, not quite close to recent September record levels but still sufficient to reach 6.5% market share — their third highest share to date — thanks to the lower than average total number of registrations. We could have perhaps hoped for an even stronger absolute performance, but in such a dwindling market, this is still a great result. We shall see if December will show a similar, steady performance or will reaffirm recent years’ trends of record registrations right at the end of the year.

Image courtesy of Renault.

Plugin hybrids settled for 5,560 registrations, in line with the previous two months. This marks a modest 12.4% increase YoY, to reach 5.2% market share. It also consolidates a trend which started in August, when PHEVs gave up their monthly lead relative to pure electric cars. For now, it’s difficult to predict the level of growth for plugin hybrids in coming months. Are they set to slowly fall out of favor with the steady advance of BEVs and cheaper mild hybrids in the short term? It will mostly depend on the commercial strategies of legacy carmakers.

Overall, plugin vehicle registrations reached 11.7% combined market share in November, their third best result to date (the previous two were in September and October). It’s hoped that figure will be eclipsed by even better performances in the very near future. Let’s see now which BEV models contributed most to November’s strong full electric showing.

The Fiat 500e regained the monthly crown last held in August, with 946 registrations. The Italian mini thus extended its unattackable lead over the competition, with almost 10,000 units already sold this year. In second place, the Renault Twingo was back on the podium after a few months off of it, posting a strong 656 registrations. Third position was for the VW e-up!, which reached 570 units, its highest performance this year.

Off the podium, the Smart ForTwo trailed its mini contender e-up! with 543 registrations. The Dacia Spring, after two mammoth months and top spots, fell into fifth place with just 416 registrations — a far cry from recent results, surely dictated by logistics rather than lack of demand for the cheapest BEV on the market. In sixth place was the VW ID.3, with 354 registrations, steady sales numbers but far from the figures recorded elsewhere in Europe.

Image courtesy of Tesla.

A surprising seventh was none other than the Tesla Model Y, with 325 registrations. In a month unusually marked by the absence of Model 3, its SUV sibling showed there’s room for a more expensive Tesla in the Italian top 10 after all. We shall see what the next few months will come to show, as the Model Y — and then the Model 3 — start local production in Europe, with the potential for slight price drops and smoothing out of seasonal peaks and troughs. Will we get two Teslas consistently among the best sellers?

The Peugeot e-208 (in 8th position), Mini Cooper SE (9th), and VW ID.4 (10th) close out a chart with many of the usual best sellers and a few exceptions. The most noticeable of all was the absence — for the first time — of former European queen the Renault Zoe, which once used to own the monthly charts. Out with the old, in with the new? That definitely seems to start to be the case. As we head toward an exciting end for this electric year, we can already get a taste of the change, and further growth, that still lie ahead of us.

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Carlo Ombello

Carlo Ombello is an environmental engineer based in London. He writes about environment, sustainability and green technologies on his blog opportunity:energy.

Carlo Ombello has 72 posts and counting. See all posts by Carlo Ombello