Motor vehicles: encouraging signs from registrations in August

  Fuels, NEWS & INTERVIEWS

Last month saw a substantial break-even compared to the same period 2019. Federauto and Unrae highlight a positive market reaction to state contributions but hope for a review of the fragmentation of resources across bands

88,801 new vehicles were registered in Italy in August, according to the latest data published by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. The figure is only 0.43% below the result posted for the same month last year (89.184). The variation on an annual basis is down compared to the previous month: July 2020 saw 136,653 registrations, 10.88% less than 153,335 in July 2019.

August also saw 155,727 registered transfers of ownership of used cars, with a downturn of 34.14% on an annual basis: 236,436 transfers were finalised in August 2019. Last month, a total of 244,528 motor vehicles were sold (36.32% new and 63.68% used).

In the period January-August, the Vehicle Registry Office recorded 809,655 cars overall, 38.93% less than in the first eight months of 2019, when 1,325,704 vehicles were registered. In the same period, 1,725,609 transfers of ownership of second-hand cars were recorded, posting a variation of -38.21% for the comparison on an annual basis (2,792,681).

Data for registrations particularly stands out – welcomed by commercial operators as an encouraging sign after the lockdown months and a context of recession. In the new market, the top ten best-selling models saw the Fiat Panda in first place, followed by Fiat 500X, Lancia Ypsilon, Ford Puma, Jeep Renegade, Jeep Compass, Dacia Sandero, Renault Captur, Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. Good performances were seen for utility cars in the B segment, as well as medium-large (D) and high-end (E) vehicles, while super-small car (A), high-end (F) and medium-sized (C) vehicle segments posted downturns.

Adolfo De Stefani Cosentino, President of Federauto, the Italian Federation of Car Dealers belonging to Confcommercio, said: “Despite everything, Italians still went on holiday and cars played a fundamental role in the mobility of families, since they ensure social distancing better than other means of transport and, consequently, better safety. This is a positive fact. The substantial break-even for new registrations in the month was also positive: the launch of new incentives from 1 August supported a recovery on the market. This is especially demonstrated by the two-figure growth of the private sector channel that in just one week exploited all the albeit few resources made available by the government for the purchase of Euro 6 petrol and diesel cars up to 110 g/km of CO2.”

However, the President of Federauto also highlighted the limitations of state contributions, whereby the framework was modified in the so-called August Decree with the division of the 61-110 g/km band into two new bands. The Federation feels that this disposition should be recalibrated because it directs “considerable resources towards electric vehicles that still have very weak and limited demand among customers with high spending power, while the range of most interest – the one between 91 and 110 g/km that appeals more to the market and is more accessible to consumers that would be capable of ensuring a major boost to the modernisation of vehicles in circulation – can only rely on 100 million euros.” “When the August Decree is ratified as law, we feel that is should at least eliminate the fragmentation of resources by bands and leave the market free to focus on capacity,” Cosentino summed up.

On its part, Unrae – the Italian Union of International Motor Vehicle Representatives – through its President, Michele Crisci, announced that “the first signs of the haemorrhage stopping after months of recession can at last be seen,” albeit at “still very low rhythms”. “The market has responded positively in the wake of the recent regulatory changes that encouraged many consumers to replace their cars,” Crisci acknowledged, while also highlighting the inconveniences associated with the change in rules and the 15-day delay between their ratification and the availability of funds. Unrae supports the re-financing of the eco-bonus fund but expressed perplexity over the division of loans into three upper limits “unrelated to effective market segmentations”, arguing that “the 100 million euro ceiling for vehicles with emissions from 91 to 110 g/km of CO2 will most probably run out very quickly” and urging a review of the new laws.

In particular, Crisci hoped that a large portion of the new allocation “could be used to upgrade the commercial vehicle fleet, one of the oldest in Europe, thereby providing effective help to companies severely affected by the lockdown over recent months.” In addition, the coming Budget Law should also take into account “the company car tax reform, with a structural or at least multi-year horizon” and “also refer to the country’s infrastructures with recharging stations to encourage the rapid spread of electric vehicles, as well as hydrogen refuelling stations and an incentive plan covering purchases for 2021 and years thereafter.”