Registrations in Italy rose 1.5 percent in April to 174,412, according to the country’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
The positive result, which comes after three consecutive monthly declines, was helped by an extra selling day compared with a year ago and a recovery in long-term rentals and sales to short-term-rental companies.
According to market researcher Dataforce, deliveries to short-term rental fleets jumped 33 percent and those to long-term rentals increased 13 percent, while sales to companies were up 1.5 percent.
Self-registrations by dealers fell 13 percent, while automaker self-registrations plunged 89 percent.
Demand from private customers was back on a growth path with a 2.5 percent increase after slipping 1.2 percent in March.
The 2019 Italian budget law introduced an additional purchase tax on vehicles emitting more than 160 grams of CO2 per kilometer while granting incentives to cars emitting less than 70g/km of CO2. The incentives kicked in April 8, triggering a strong increase in sales of full-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
According to the importers association UNRAE, full-electric vehicles posted a 355 percent increase to 1,190 units in April, while their market share rose to 0.7 percent from 0.3 percent in March and 0.1 percent in April 2018. Plug-in hybrid sales rose 155 percent to 471 units and a 0.3 percent share.
Sales of diesel-powered cars fell 23 percent to 70,788 and a new share low of 40.5 percent, down from 52.8 percent in April 2018.
Gasoline car sales rose 33 percent to 78,409 and a 44.8 percent market share, up from 34.2 percent the year before.
The market share for cars powered by liquefied petroleum gas rose to 6.9 percent from 6.2 percent, while the share for vehicles powered by compressed natural gas slipped to 1.7 percent from 2.4 percent.
UNRAE Chairman Michele Crisci said the stimulus from eco-incentives, weakened by taxes on high-emission vehicles, will only partially compensate the impact of the worsening economy. UNRAE forecasts a 3.2 percent decline of car sales in 2019 to 1.85 million units.