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Tesla Model Y Leads Italy’s BEV Market In November

It was another month of bittersweet feelings for Italy’s car sales in November. With the rest of Europe leading the charge in the switch to electric mobility, the continent’s fourth largest auto market saw contrasting signs for EV adoption. Tesla, taking a decisive lead in BEV sales, helped lift full electric cars’ market share and limit year-on-year losses.

The latest official statistics for Italy’s car market are out and tell a story in line with that of recent months. Overall car sales are on the up, EV sales not so much. Over 121,000 cars were registered in November, up almost 14% year on year (YoY) from the fewer than 107,000 units of November 2021. Conventional ICE powertrains were stable, with petrols at 26.9% and diesels at 18.2% market share (a year ago they reached 26.8% and 19% respectively). Plugless hybrids reached 33.6%, up from 31.3% twelve months before.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) scored 5,162 registrations in November. After the disappointing results of October, this was another month of subdued sales levels, with a YoY decline of almost 26% from the near 7,000 units of November 2021. It was at the same time the second highest monthly result of 2022 so far, following the peak of June when pent-up demand was finally released as new incentives were launched. Full electrics thus reached 4.2% market share, far from the highs of last year (6.5% in October 2021) but also amongst the best figures of 2022. It was not, however, an organic result, as it’s thanks to Tesla that BEVs avoided another monthly debacle, something we will see in the chart below.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) powertrains followed a completely different path from full electric cars. With 6,698 registrations, PHEVs reached 5.5% market share. That was close to 18% YoY growth from fewer than 5,700 units twelve months before, when they took 5.3% market share. The stark difference from BEVs’ negative result confirms the year-long trend that is seeing this bridge technology keeping the lead over its uncompromised alternative. The good performance of PHEVs allowed overall plug-in registrations to reach 9.8% market share, the second best result this year, although nowhere near the 11.8% result achieved a year before.

In this month of mixed signals, the monthly top 10 BEV chart shows one clear winner in a sea of underwhelming results.

With an outstanding performance, the Tesla Model Y eclipsed all competition by erupting to number one with 1008 registrations (the Y’s best monthly result to date), in what looks like a repeat of its recent September exploit — except that this was no quarter end. Clearly, the ramping up of Berlin’s gigafactory production, along with a comparatively attractive price tag (the base version costs over €7,000 less than the base Model 3) are supporting Tesla’s increasingly difficult mission in the Italian market, which bodes the question as to how many more could be sold if only they qualified for incentives like most other BEVs.

At a very wide distance, the tiny Smart ForTwo followed in second place, with 471 registrations, fewer than half the numbers of the Model Y. The Fiat 500e completed the podium with a lackluster 396 registrations, very far from its previous peaks and in line with recent months’ dull performances. More compact models followed, including the once promising Dacia Spring — in fifth position with 351 registrations — which keeps missing out on high, untapped potential due to production constraints and the brand’s apparent focus on other European markets.

The C-segment German siblings VW ID.3 and Audi Q4 e-tron also made a symbolic appearance in the lower ranks of the chart, the only models beyond the Tesla Model Y to break the A- and B-segments’ usual dominance of the Italian market. The most notable absence from the chart was that of Tesla Model 3, once a powerful contender for monthly podium positions, but currently dragged by 20% YoY price hikes that have suppressed demand. This lull might only get resolved once Tesla’s factories (including Berlin?) start producing the much touted revamped Model 3, with fewer components (and an updated battery pack?) paired to a more attractive price point to bring back its lost mojo.

As new, higher segment BEV models still struggle to break through the tough barriers of Italy’s car market (with the notable exception of the Tesla Model Y), Italy’s staple mini BEVs can’t manage to make a positive difference and instead contribute to a weakened sales scenario that has now consolidated over the months. The Italian market’s extreme sensitivity to price means only well executed and appropriately priced models will meet success and create sustainable, long-term demand. The seeming paradox is that an upmarket D-segment SUV is showing the way. Will lower-price automakers take note?

 
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Written By

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

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