This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/24/2018

Overview

Italy is the fourth largest European automotive market after Germany, the United Kingdom and France, with 1.97 million new registered passenger vehicles sold in 2017, representing an 8% increase over 2016. The market for new light commercial vehicles (under 3.5 tons) decreased by 3.6% last year, totaling 193,178 units. Of new vehicles produced, 56.4% are diesel, 31.9% are gasoline, and 11.7% use alternative fuels.

The Italian automotive industry is primarily concentrated in Turin and in the Piedmont region: around 50% of the 2,600 companies (with 170,000 employees) active in Italy in the sector, including components’ manufacturers, are established there.
In 2017, Italian manufacturers had a 29% market share of the passenger vehicles market. FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) is the only significant auto manufacturer producing cars and light commercial vehicles in Italy. FCA has a 50% joint venture with the French PSA Group in the light commercial vehicles sector and dominates the market. FCA’s strong position in the local market is primarily due to its range of affordable city cars. In 2017, FCA registered 560,770 vehicles. Some FCA models, such as the Punto model and the Alfa Romeo models are manufactured in Italy, whereas the Panda, 500 and Ypsilon, are manufactured in Poland or Turkey. All Ferrari and Maserati models are manufactured in Italy. The remainder of the market is comprised by the Italian-Chinese J-V DR and the sports car manufacturer Lamborghini (owned by the German group VW). 

The Italian alternative fuel vehicles market is composed by both new vehicles and used vehicles, the latter retrofitted because of aftermarket operations. Italy represents 24% of the alternative fuel vehicles market in the European Union, down from 27% in 2016. This is mainly due to the new LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) cars, which account for 70% of the Italian alternative fuel vehicles market. Electric and hybrid cars are in general imported, with alternative fuel vehicles from the United States primarily manufactured by Tesla. While the sales numbers are low, affluent consumers are showing a growing interest in these vehicles. 
 
The Italian automotive market

The number of cars in Italy totaled 38,520,321 in 2017, which are on average 11 years old. In Italy there are 62.4 cars for every 100 inhabitants, one of the highest rates in Europe, due in large part to the lack of public transport infrastructure. Italy is one of the largest European markets for motorcycles and mopeds; in 2017 the stock of mopeds and over 50 cc. vehicles was 6,689,911 units, by far the largest in Europe. In 2017, around 204,406 over 50 cc. vehicles and 23,874 mopeds were registered. Italy’s total automotive vehicle production in 2017 was about 1,142,210 vehicles, down from 1,003,000 vehicles in 2016. This data includes 742,642 cars and 332,112 light commercial vehicles.

Foreign brands represent 71% of the Italian automotive market, of which 21% from Germany and 18% from France. The American manufacturer Ford covered 6.8% of the Italian market in 2017 (compared to 6.8% in 2016). Recently, the European branch of GM (Opel/Vauxhall) has been sold to the French group PSA. Therefore, we are not considering Opel sales in Italy in our statistics. However, GM will retain the-state-of-the-art GM Powertrain Torino, which will continue developing diesel engines, controls and propulsion systems for GM and for Opel and Vauxhall through supply contracts. This pole of excellence represents a strategic asset for GM globally and employs more than 600 engineers. Jeep models are either imported from the United States and more broadly from North America or manufactured locally. The most successful Jeep model sold in Italy is the Renegade, which is produced in Melfi, Italy for export to the European and U.S. markets. This Italian plant also manufactures other FCA models. More than 37,591 units of this vehicle were sold globally in 2017, with Jeep registering 105,001 vehicles in Europe. 
 
Leading Sub-Sectors

Automotive Components

In 2017, according to data released by the Italian Automotive Association ANFIA and by ISTAT, the Italian National Institute of Statistics, the Italian parts and components manufacturers, among the most important in the world, exported products worth $23.9 billion worldwide. Italian firms imported $17.5 billion of automotive parts and components, registering a growth of more than $1.3 billion. The U.S. is the 7th export market for the Italian automotive components manufacturers, worth about $1.1 billion. U.S. exports of automotive components to Italy have grown sharply in the last years. In 2017, U.S. products accounted for 4.1% of the total Italian imports of automotive components at a value of around $715 million. 
 
U.S. automotive component manufacturers have a significant presence in Italy where they primarily manufacture parts used in vehicles that are then exported to other markets. For example, the American firm Alcoa maintains their Advanced Transportation Systems (AATS) in Modena and has partnered with Ferrari to bring advanced aluminum structural technology and performance to their Gran Turismo vehicles. Other U.S. automotive components manufacturers have a strong manufacturing presence in Italy, including Exide, Federal Mogul and PPG.
 
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Alternative fuel vehicles represent a sizable share of the Italian car market, comprising 11.7% of the vehicles sold in Italy in 2017, one of the largest percentages in Europe, which can be estimated at $4.5 billion. The current CNG fleet in Italy is by far the largest in Europe, with 911,000 CNG vehicles.

There are currently 3,42 million alternative fuel vehicles registered in Italy, which corresponds to around 8.9% of the overall amount of the vehicles stock in Italy: 2,309,020 of them are LPG (6%), 926,704 are CNG vehicles (2.4%), 177,492 are hybrid vehicles (0.5%) and electric vehicles amount to a small quota of the market (7,560 vehicles.) In 2017, the total of new alternative fuel vehicles (Gasoline + LPG or Gasoline + CNG), CNG, LPG, Hybrid and Electric sold was 230,183. In 2016, 185,416 alternative fuel vehicles were sold. Gasoline + LPG vehicles accounted for 129,042 in 2017 (6.5% of the market), up from 101,698 units (or 5.6%) in 2016. The number of new Gasoline plus CNG vehicles registered in 2017 was 32,743 (1.7% of the market), down from 43,796 in 2016 (2.4% of the market). 
 
It is difficult to determine which part of the Italian alternative fuels market is composed of vehicles manufactured in Italy or those which are imported. In fact, models by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the local market leader, are usually fitted at the factory (Gasoline to Gasoline/LPG or Gasoline/CNG), so the value depends on where the vehicle is actually manufactured (in Italy or abroad). At the same time, because Italy is among the largest manufacturer of LPG and CNG fittings, some foreign manufacturers tend to fit their vehicles to Gasoline/LPG or Gasoline/CNG in Italy. LPG and CNG fittings are usually produced in Italy. 
 

Electric and hybrid cars are primarily imported. In 2017 hybrid vehicles sales accounted for 63,398 units (3.2% of the market), whereas in 2016 their market share was 2.1% (37,240). Pure electric vehicles comprised a small share of around 1,967 vehicles in 2017. 

Alternative fuel vehicles rely on a widespread distribution network (4,062 LPG and 1,260 CNG refilling stations, or 46% and 31% of the European total). However, while Italy has the largest network of CNG refilling stations in Europe, the distribution network (for both LPG and CNG) is quite underdeveloped in Southern Italy (including Sardinia and Sicily). In the future, FCA, Iveco (part of CNH Industrial) and Snam, which owns part of the natural gas transportation network, plan to develop 2,200 CNG refilling stations by 2026.

Regarding the CNG, the situation in Italy should positively develop due to two main facts: first, Italy recently transposed the European Directive 2014/94 that commits the local public administration to implementing the number of CNG refilling stations and to investing at least 25% of their budget in new vehicles with a low environmental impact; second, the anufacturers supply is expected to increase significantly in the next few years. 
 
Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles sales represent a small part of the total vehicle sales in Italy, totaling only 1,967 in 2017. Some major constraints limit their numbers: limited range, long charging times and their high price which makes these vehicles non-competitive when compared to internal combustion vehicles. Historically, the FCA Group has not been particularly focused on electric vehicles but has opted for research and development in technologies related to LPG and CNG vehicles. However, gasoline hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and gasoline plug-in hybrids, are expected to grow Europe-wide to total up to 35-40% of new car sales by 2025.

Enel, the largest utility and the largest provider of electric energy in Italy, has recently announced a $340 million project for installing 12,000 charging stations for electric vehicles. It has been estimated that developing an adequate recharging infrastructure in and around Milan would cost several billion dollars.

Tesla sales in Italy are on the rise. In 2017 Tesla sold 480 cars (264 Model S and 216 Model X). Tesla sells over one fourth of all the electric cars sold in Italy. Tesla is developing its Supercharger network in Italy. Currently, there are 29 Superchargers in Italy (another 21 superchargers will soon be installed).
In the first semester of 2017, 620 electric scooters were registered (96% more than during the first semester of 2016). Piaggio is the leading Italian manufacturer of electric bikes, as well as the largest European two- and three-wheeler manufacturer, producing both the hybrid MP3 scooter and an electric version of its 4 wheelers light commercial vehicle ‘Porter’ Unfortunately, many Italian cities still do not have charging stations for electric bikes or motorcycles. 
 
Used Vehicles and LPG/CNG Retrofitting

The market for used vehicles in Italy is significant: in fact, sales of used cars exceeded 2.9 million in 2017. Many used vehicles (especially the more powerful and gasoline powered) can be retrofitted to LPG/CNG in order to keep their operating costs affordable. In the last 15 years, LPG retrofitting has reached more than 2 million units, whereas CNG retrofitting has exceeded 400,000 units. Actual costs depend upon the technology of the vehicle being retrofitted. The last data available as concerns the value of retrofitting refers to 2014 ($270 million).

The importance of both the CNG and LPG markets allows Italian components manufacturers to be among the leaders in these specific market niches. Companies such as Landi Renzo and BRC are well known worldwide and almost 80% of revenues of the sector’s companies are generated abroad. A network of over 6,000 car repair shops throughout Italy handles retrofitting.  

Opportunities

Italy is an interesting market for the alternative fuels technologies. The U.S. has a competitive advantage in the use of alternative fuels, particularly in the public transportation sector, and opportunities exist for U.S. products in Italy as well as in other countries where CNG and LPG are broadly used. In particular, the Italian market presents strong opportunities for U.S. companies in the following sub-sectors: 
  1. Suppliers of diagnostic equipment needed to maintain gasoline engines converted to dual fuel (gasoline + LPG and gasoline plus CNG);
  2. Suppliers of refueling stations, including parts and components. The increasing number of LPG and CNG vehicles requires suitable refueling stations allowing for self-service refueling. Self-service is still very rare  in Italy and was prohibited until recently due to safety reasons;
  3. Suppliers of electric vehicles (both cars and two and three wheelers). Besides consumer interest in models like Tesla, there is interest in the Italian market for the two and three wheelers electric vehicles, e.g. from police forces looking for vehicles particularly fit for silent, reliable and economic patrolling.
     
Trade shows:

Oil & non-Oil - S&TCOctober 11-12, 2017, Verona, Italy. Focused on car wash, alternative fuels, downstream, service stations (12th edition)
 
EICMA: November 7-12, 2017, Milan, Italy. The major international motorcycle exhibition (75th  edition). EICMA is the largest motorcycle event in the world. CS will provide strong support to U.S. companies interested in exhibiting and meeting new business partners during this event.
 
Motor Show: December 02-10, 2017, Bologna, Italy. An international sport show (42nd edition)  
 
Motor Bike Expo: January 19-21 2018, Verona. An international motorcycle show.
 
Automotive Dealer Day: May 2018 (dates TBD), Verona, Italy. Focused on the automotive distribution industry.
 
Autopromotec: May 22-26, 2019, Bologna, Italy. This is one of the premiere European shows in the automotive and aftermarket products sectors (27th edition).  In addition to spare parts, the show includes exhibitors of equipment and machinery related to car repair workshops, service stations, car washers, tire sales and repair, engine repair.  The show also devotes a major focus to the new trends towards dual fuel in the heavy-duty vehicles (diesel + gas).
 
Moto Days 2018: March 11-13, 2018, Rome, Italy. A motorcycle and scooter show which draws its audience mostly from Central and Southern Italy.

 

Web Resources

Major Associations:
ACI - Automobile Club of Italy
ADIRA - Italian Association of Independent Spare Parts Distributors, www.adira.it
AICA - Italian Automotive Service Equipment Manufacturers Association, www.asso-aica.it  
ANCMAItalian Association of Cycles, Motorcycles and Accessories, www.ancma.it 
ANFIA - Italian Association of the Automotive Industry, www.en.anfia.it/
CENTRO ESTERO INTERNAZIONALIZZAZIONE PIEMONTE - Foreign Trade Office –
Piedmont - Chambers of Commerce, i
n particular, the project “From Concept to Car
CENTRO STUDI PROMOTOR - An automotive research organization
EUROPA - Summary of EU legislation,
GIPA - An automotive research organization
UNRAE - Association of foreign car makers operating in Italy
 
U.S. Commercial Service Contact:
Mr. Andrea Rosa, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate Milan
Tel. +39/02/62688-523

E-mail: Andrea.Rosa@trade.gov
Export.gov/Italy Website

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Italy Automotive Trade Development and Promotion