MILAN -- New emission testing standards that went into effect Sept. 1 had a decisive — and punishing — impact on registrations in Italy last month, with sales plummeting 25 percent to 124,976 units, according to figures published by Italy’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
After pushing deliveries up in July and August, when some carmakers had to register older vehicles that no longer would be compliant after Sept. 1, the new emission standards — known as the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure — triggered the September fall. Many automakers had not yet homologated some models according to the new WLTP rules. In addition, September 2018 had one less working day than the same month of 2017.
Diesel sales in September suffered more than the average, down 38 percent versus a 6 percent decline for gasoline cars and a 28 percent increase in hybrid-car registrations. Registrations of full-electric vehicles rose 169 percent but still accounted for less than 0.4 percent of the market. Cars powered by liquid petroleum gas and compressed natural gas also lost ground, with sales down 24 percent and 63 percent, respectively.
The diesel market share was down to 47.9 percent in September, the lowest since March 2010, according to the ANFIA industry association. Year to date, the diesel share declined to 53.3 percent from 56.8 percent at the same point in 2017.
Diesel bans in cities are starting to take their toll. According to the UNRAE importers association, diesel registrations by individual private customers declined 16 percent countrywide in the first eight months. Cities that are implementing curbs on diesel cars saw bigger fally with diesel sales down 22 percent in Rome, 29 percent in Milan and 37 percent in Turin, UNRAE said.
September sales by market leader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dropped 40 percent, with a historically low market share of 22.7 percent. In the same month last year, that share was 28.3 percent. Sales of the flagship Fiat brand fell 43 percent, Alfa Romeo lost 63 percent, Jeep declined 15 percent and Lancia sales were down 28 percent. Bucking the trend was the premium brand Maserati, whose sales rose 19 percent.
Among foreign carmakers, the Volkswagen brand took first place despite a 30 percent drop in registrations. Europe’s best-selling car — the VW Golf, which was the 11th-most-sold car in Italy in the first half — was out of the top 50 in September because the company had not completed homologation tests according to the WLTP emissions test. Within the VW Group, Seat sales were down 39 percent and Skoda 8.2 percent.
Peugeot sales were 6.4 percent lower in September, while sister brands Citroen and Opel both dropped 15 percent. Renault registrations fell by nearly half — off 49 percent — with sister brand Dacia suffering a 34 percent fall. Ford deliveries were down 9.6 percent.
Among Asian brands, Toyota bucked the negative trend in September sales with a 4.7 increase, while Nissan registrations declined 38 percent. Hyundai registrations fell 16 percent, while sister company Kia reported an 11 percent rise.
German premium brands also suffered, with Audi sales down 51 percent, BMW 16 percent and Mercedes-Benz 10 percent.
For the first nine months, overall registrations in Italy are down 2.8 percent to 1.49 million units.
- Download PDF, above right, for Italy sales by automaker and brand.