Italy’s plug-in sales near 12% in November as car market declines

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Italy’s EV market maintains a fast pace in November, while overall car sales continue their decline in tune with most other European countries. As internal combustion engines keep their downward trajectory, a new normal seems to be taking place: less overall sales, more electrified ones.

Official statistics by Unrae for the month of November show no mercy. The fast, relentless pace of change means yet another month goes with a substantial decline in registrations year-on-year (YoY), much to the detriment of traditional ICE options and in favour of all their electrified counterparts. A total of less than 107,000 cars were in fact registered this month, down by a whole 24% compared to the over 140,000 units recorded a year ago. Petrol and diesel engines are down to 26.9% and 19% market share respectively, in line with recent trends. Traditional plugless hybrids score 31.4%, confirming their status of most popular powertrain.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) record 6,958 units, a 44.3% increase YoY, not quite close to recent September record levels but still sufficient to reach 6.5% market share – the third highest share to date – thanks to the lower than average total number of registrations. We could have perhaps hoped for an even stronger absolute performance but, in such a dwindling market, this is still a great result. We shall see if December will show a similar, steady performance or will reaffirm recent years’ trends of record registrations right at the end of the year.

Plug-in hybrids settle for 5,560 registrations, in line with the previous two months. This marks a modest 12.4% increase YoY, to reach 5.2% market share. It also consolidates a trend which started in August, when PHEVs gave up their monthly lead relative to pure electric cars. For now, it’s difficult to predict the level of growth for plug-in hybrids in coming months. Are they set to slowly fall out of favor with the steady advance of BEVs and cheaper mild hybrids in the short term? It will mostly depend on commercial strategies by legacy car makers.

Overall plug-in registrations reach 11.7% combined market share in November, third best result to date (the previous two were in September and October), and a figure that it’s hoped will be eclipsed by even better performances in the very near future. Let’s see now which BEV models contributed most to November’s strong full electric showing.

Fiat 500e regains the monthly crown last held in August, with 946 units. The Italian mini thus extends its unattackable lead over the competition, with almost 10,000 units already sold this year so far. In second place, Renault Twingo is back in the podium after a few months, posting a strong 656 registrations. Third position is for VW e-up!, which reaches 570 units, its highest performance this year.

Out of the podium, Smart ForTwo trails its mini contender e-up! with 543 registrations. Dacia Spring, after two mammoth months and top spots, falls into fifth place with just 416 units – a far cry from recent results – surely dictated by logistics rather than lack of demand for the cheapest BEV in the market. In sixth place follows VW ID.3 with 354 units, steady sales numbers but far from the figures recorded elsewhere in Europe.

A surprising seventh is none other than Tesla Model Y, with 325 registrations. In a month unusually marked by the absence of Model 3, its SUV sibling shows there is room for a more expensive Tesla in the Italian Top 10 after all. We shall see what the next few months will come to show, as Model Y – and then the 3 – start local production in Europe, with the potential for slight price drops and smoothing out of seasonal peaks and troughs. Will we get two Teslas consistently among the best sellers?

Peugeot e-208 (eighth position), Mini Cooper SE (ninth) and VW ID.4 (tenth) close a chart with many of the usual best sellers and a few exceptions. The most noticeable of all being the absence – for the first time! – of former European queen the Renault Zoe, which once used to own the monthly charts. Out with the old, in with the new? That definitely seems to start to be the case. As we head to an exciting end for this electric year, we can already get a taste of the change, and further growth, that still lie ahead of us.

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