Italy’s market for electrical vehicles today has certain distinctive traits in that it is more heavily oriented towards the supply side than demand.
Let’s take a look at demand. Just a few weeks ago, the first E-Mobility Report was published by the Energy & Strategy Group of Politecnico di Milano, which analyzed growth trends and other data on electric mobility both in Italy and abroad. In 2016, some 800,000 electric cars (both battery-only electric vehicles, or BEVs, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs) were sold worldwide, up 40% from 2015. China and the United States led the way, while Norway topped the rankings within Europe (where a total of 151,000 vehicles were sold) with new electric vehicle sales accounting for 23.3% of the total. Italy, meanwhile, went against the overall trend and lagged far behind with just 2,560 vehicles sold, or 0.1% of the country’s total car market and with no growth compared to the prior year.
According to a comparative analysis conducted for the report, one of the main reasons for varying performance in the sale of electric vehicles are purchase incentives. In Norway, the incentive is roughly €20,000 for BEVs and €13,000 for PHEVs, while in the Netherlands the average incentive is around €9,500. In Italy, on the other hand, incentives average just €3,000 for a BEV and €2,000 for a PHEV.
However, in Italy we are seeing development throughout the value chain, from essential research to the finished vehicles and from the design of battery systems to recharging stations. Startups and other businesses are also coming up with innovative ideas as they find success in foreign markets, some examples of which were presented by Enel and the Symbola Foundation a couple of weeks ago at the event “100 Italian E-Mobility Stories”.
One such example comes from Zagato, a longstanding Italian firm that makes car bodies and which designed Thunder Power, a truly global electric car under Taiwanese ownership, manufactured in China and featuring Italian design and European engineering. Another is the Estrima Birò, an innovative, ultra-light electric vehicle with a removable battery, the brainchild of Matteo Maestri, whose startup has brought some diversity to the family business of safety cabs for farm equipment. Not to mention a whole series of companies specialized in projects for public transport, such as Rampini, based in Perugia, which is now providing its Alè Elettrico bus to many European cities, including Vienna, Hamburg and Budapest.
Studies such as the one above, born out of collaborations between academia and the business world, are seeking to identify obstacles and promote the solutions needed in order for electric mobility to finally take off in Italy.