MILAN -- New-car sales in Italy declined by 0.4 percent in August to 88,801, as a drop in self-registrations by automakers and dealers was offset by a 27 percent jump in registrations to private customers triggered by a government incentive plan, data from the country's transport ministry showed.
The Italian government introduced a stimulus program to support car sales that started Aug. 1. The program provides 3,500 euros ($4,125) for buyers who scrap cars that are at least 10 years old and buy a new vehicle up to 40,000 euros in price with CO2 emissions of no more than 110 grams per kilometer. Dealers will contribute 2,000 euros of the incentive money.
In addition, the government is offering incentives of up to 8,000 euros for buyers of zero-emissions vehicles.
Financing of the program was boosted from 150 to 450 million euros by a further economic stimulus plan approved in August.
Demand from private customers jumped to 63,212 in August, according to market researcher Dataforce.
Sales to short-term rental companies increased 0.3 percent to 3,633. Registrations by long-term rental companies declined 3 percent and business sales were up 13 percent.
Self-registrations by automakers and dealers plunged 88 percent and 53 percent, respectively, Dataforce said.
Sales of electrified vehicles rose with the introduction of several new mild hybrid models, including the Fiat Panda and Fiat 500, the Lancia Ypsilon, and the Ford Puma. Registrations of hybrid cars more than tripled in August from the same month in 2019 to 13,419 with a 15 percent market share, up from 4.6 percent.
Full-electric car sales rose 250 percent to 1,877 to a 2.1 percent market share, while plug-in hybrid sales jumped 421 percent to 1,598 for a 1.8 percent share.
Gasoline car sales fell by 18 percent in the month for a 36.2 percent market share, while diesel sales declined by 8.1 percent to a market share of 35.3 percent.
Sales in Italy were down 39 percent through August to 809,655 units.
Dataforce forecasts total sales of 1.22 million for the year, a 700,000-unit drop from 2019. Given the 516,000 year-on-year drop accumulated through August, the forecast implies a 31 percent fall in registrations over the last four months of the year.
Industry association ANFIA has a relatively optimistic view: "For the first time since the beginning of the year, the Italian auto market was largely stable in August after the heavy double-digit falls seen for five consecutive months between March and July," the group in a statement.
ANFIA quotes a monthly survey by statistical institute ISTAT, according to which both consumer and business confidence indexes rose in August.
Winners and losers
Among Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' brands, Fiat registrations declined by 6.3 percent in August and Lancia's volume was down 9.7 percent. Alfa Romeo sales rose by 14 percent, and Jeep grew by 8.3 percent.
Volkswagen brand sales were up 17 percent. Among VW Group's other brands, Seat sales rose 18 percent, while Skoda posted a 19 percent increase.
- Click here for Italy sales by brand
Within the PSA Group, Peugeot sales increased by 8.4 percent, Citroen demand was up 25 percent, while the DS premium brand had a 39 percent increase. Opel registrations dropped by 18 percent.
Within the Renault Group, the namesake brand fell 13 percent and Dacia sales declined 36 percent. Ford sales grew by 17 percent.
All the main Asian brands posted positive results. Toyota sales rose by 12 percent, while Nissan was up 24 percent. Hyundai volume increased by 39 percent, while sibling brand Kia posted a 10 percent rise.
Among German premium brands, Audi registrations rose 8.3 percent, Mercedes-Benz was up 6.5 percent, while BMW sales declined by 8.7 percent.