ROME (Reuters) -- The Italian government is considering offering tax incentives to encourage new car purchases by both private and public sector owners, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said.
"We are thinking of using fiscal levers to encourage a renewal of our car stocks," Lupi told reporters today. "We are evaluating this project because that is what it means to have an industrial policy for this country," he said, giving no details.
He said he would meet Industry Minister Federica Guidi to consider the proposals which would concern both privately owned cars and publicly owned vehicle fleets.
The proposals would then be looked at by the Economy Ministry and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's office.
Italy is Europe's fourth-largest automobile market but sales suffered badly during its worst postwar recession and industry groups have warned a recovery this year is fragile.
Sales rose 4 percent in June compared with the same month a year before, although carmakers association ANFIA highlighted that monthly sales in June 2013 had been the lowest since 1978.
The Italian government has offered tax breaks in the past to encourage people to buy more cars, a move which was aimed at supporting its national champion Fiat, soon to finalize a merger with Chrysler to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat Chrysler employs around 62,000 people in Italy and supplies about 27 percent of Italy's car market.
Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, president of car retailers group Federauto, welcomed the idea, saying the measures should be aimed at sustaining a market that is "short of breath."
Lupi said Italy's buses and cars are older than the European average. The average age of private and public buses in Italy is 13 years and cars are on average 10 years old, compared with seven years for both kinds of vehicles in the wider European Union.