TURIN -- Sales of new cars in Italy declined 2.8 percent in May, with political uncertainty after the March 4 elections still weighing on the market.
Registrations were down to 199,113 units, according to figures published Friday by Italy's transport ministry.
May sales were back into negative territory after demand rose 6.5 in April — up 1.5 percent on an unadjusted basis. "Political uncertainty may have slowed down demand, with customers putting purchases on hold," Aurelio Nervo, president of the industry association ANFIA, said. Negotiations to form a new government continued until last week.
Sales by market leader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles slumped 8.2 percent, as registrations of its core brand Fiat fell 23 percent. Sales of Jeep SUVs jumped 130 percent, buoyed by demand for the new Compass compact SUV. The Compass took seventh place in the model ranking with 4,493 units sold, joining the Jeep Renegade in the market top 10, which was third with 5,101.
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Alfa Romeo posted a 3.8 percent rise in registrations, while Lancia lost 4.3 percent.
Volkswagen Group sales were up 12 percent on the back of a 20 percent increase for the core VW brand and a 27 percent jump at Spanish unit Seat. Skoda volume rose 2.4 percent.
Within the PSA Group, Peugeot sales were down 1.5 percent, Citroen sales declined 2.5 percent and Opel registrations fell 4.2 percent.
Renault's volume rose 4.8 percent, with sister brand Dacia down 7.6 percent.
Ford registrations declined 8 percent.
All German premium brands lost ground: Audi sales declined 5.9 percent, BMW 7.9 percent and Mercedes-Benz 8.1 percent.
Among main Asian automakers, Toyota's registrations declined 4.2 percent, Nissan's fell 16 percent, Hyundai's were off 7.2 percent and Kia's slipped 1.3 percent.
Demand from private customers grew slightly in May, up 0.6 percent, according to the car importers’ association UNRAE. Sales to long-term rentals declined 5.3 percent, while short-term rentals were up 2.5 percent. Self-registrations by automakers fell by more than half — down 52 percent — while those by dealers increased 15 percent.
The sales decline for diesels accelerated in May, with a 10 percent slump and a loss of 4.1 points of market share compared with the same month of 2017 — to 51.7 percent. In April, the diesel share was 52.8 percent.
The diesel share was the lowest since October 2012, according to ANFIA. For the year to date, diesels are down to 54.1 percent from 56.3 percent in 2017.
Hybrid electric, battery electric and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas all gained ground in May. CNG's share more than doubled to 2.8 percent, hybrid electric rose to 3.9 percent from 3.4 percent, and battery electric won a 0.3 percent share compared with 0.1 percent in 2017.
Sales in the first five months in Italy were down 0.3 percent compared with last year, to 945,677.