Stellantis slams Italy for not backing EVs, putting Fiat at risk

EVs drivers in Italy are a rare breed. And Stellantis’s CEO Carlos Tarvares says the government needs to step in and do more, a lot more, to promote EVs in a country with only 4% EV adoption rate, reports Automotive News Europe. Italy has some of the oldest, most polluting cars in Europe, and is lagging way behind other European countries in EV adoption, with an incentive program that has been practically nonexistent.

Italy, however, does aim to change that, to the tune of a $1 billion investment to encourage people to ditch their gas- or diesel-burning cars for electric ones – but this hasn’t happened yet and still needs to go through the approval process. And Tavares said that’s just not going to cut it.

“Italy is spending much less money than any other large European country to support EVs,” he said. For comparison, the German government has spent a total of €9.5 billion euros since 2016 under the scheme for around 2.1 million electric vehicles before ending the program in December.

“The consequence is that we are losing manufacturing products in Italy that we could manufacture. We already wasted nine months of production, of additional production in Mirafiori,” the plant in Turin, Italy, which produces the Fiat 500e.

“Stellantis has been asking the Italian government for the last nine months to support EV sales,” Tavares said this week, according to Automotive News Europe.

Meanwhile, Stellantis has seen little government support in backing its homegrown EVs, namely the Fiat 500 e. The Mirafiori plant recently saw a round of temporary layoffs due to a “sluggish demand.”

Plus, the Italian government wants Stellantis to bump up its annual production in Italy to 1 million vehicles, from around 750,000 last year. But Stellantis has been seeking some support in making that happen, via reduced energy costs and EV sales incentives, Automotive News Europe reports.

Fiat, for its part, had a rough year producing 77,000 500e cars against the more than 90,000 forecast at the beginning of 2023. Already available in Europe (and a car I see everywhere I go), the 2024 500e EVavailable for order, will go on sale in the US in the initial RED trim the first quarter of this year.

Italy is the home of the oldest vehicle fleet in Europe, the government cites, with at least 11 million Euro 3 cars (with emissions standards set in 2001) or lower-grade vehicles on the roads. But the Italian industry ministry is weighing a plan to sink €930 million ($1 billion) into some enticing financial incentives to nudge drivers toward electric cars, and is expected to present the incentive to the automobile representatives on February 1. This includes an incentive topping €13,750 to allow Italian citizens with an annual income lower than €30,000 to replace old Euro 2 models (meeting emissions standards set back in 1997) for new electric cars. An EV made in Italy is even better, which could help turn things around for Fiat.

The new plan also aims to help low-income families purchase made-in-Italy EVs, similar to the package offered by France’s made-in-France incentives. 

Meanwhile, sales are surging in Italy, with new car registrations jumping 19% last year to 1.57 million. But petrol cars take the lead, gaining more than 29% market share, according to Electromaps. BEVs still only have a 3.9% market share, compared to 4.2% for PHEVs, during that same time.

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