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Italy passenger car market falls during 2018
The Italian passenger car market retreated by 3.1% y/y in 2018, according to the latest data published by the National Association of Foreign Vehicle Makers' Representatives (Unione Nazionale Rappresentanti Autoveicoli Esteri: UNRAE). Registrations fell from 1,971,345 units to 1,910,025 units. However, this was marginally offset by a 2.0% y/y gain in December to 124,178 units.
Outlook and implications
In the Italian passenger car market, the weaknesses have come from across most customer types during 2018. Private registrations have slipped by 2.4% y/y, while registrations by short-term rental fleets have fallen by 7.0% y/y. In addition, company car registrations have contracted by 9.3% y/y, although long-term rentals - which are another common way for companies to own cars - have risen by a modest 1.2% y/y. The new year is likely to bring some changes in the market dynamic with the approval of a new bonus-malus scheme for new cars based around their CO2 emissions. From 1 March, additional purchases taxes will be applied to vehicles emitting more than 160 g/km. However, it will also increase the incentive for electric vehicles (EVs) and other electrified vehicles to promote a shift towards them. As such, we could see a pull forward of registrations of larger, premium vehicles prior to the introduction, although those customers looking for low-emission vehicles are likely to hold off purchases. On the year to come, the president of UNRAE, Michele Crisci, said in a statement, "2019 will be a year that, apart from factors that we do not see today, should end in a volume of cars sold lower than 2018." He also noted that the new taxes could result in a large loss in the revenues for the state. However, IHS Markit currently anticipates that the passenger car market should see a minor improvement this year, although we may look to readjust this once we have assessed the impact of the new bonus-malus scheme.
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