MILAN -- Italy's new-car sales fell 5.9 percent to 155,528 in January, according to data from Italy's ministry of infrastructure and transport.
A bright spot in the market was an 89 percent leap in demand for electrified vehicles.
Registrations of hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles rose 89 percent to 13,654, reaching an all-time high market share of 11.3 percent, according to importer association UNRAE.
Full- and mild-hybrid sales were up 74 percent to 15,643 for a 9.2 percent market share, while plug-in hybrid sales increased 278 percent to 1,341 for a 0.9 percent market share.
Sales of full-electric vehicles increased 587 percent to 1,943 and their market share rose to 1.2 percent from 0.2 percent in January 2019, and 0.6 percent in December.
Incentives of up to 6,000 euros offered to buyers who replace old cars for new, low-emissions vehicles, helped to increase sales of electrified vehicles. The so-called "eco bonus" and tougher emissions limits will continue to boost EV and plug-in hybrid sales through 2020, industry association ANFIA said.
Renault's Zoe battery-powered hatchback was the most popular electrified model, followed by the recently launched electric version of the Peugeot 208.
Diesel demand fell 23 percent in January to a market share of 33.5 percent, the lowest since 2001, according to industry association ANFIA. Gasoline's share rose to 46.5 percent from 45.1 in January 2019.
The market share for cars powered by liquefied petroleum gas declined to 6.2 percent from 7.3 percent, while sales of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas rose 136 percent to 4,114, and their market share increased to 2.6 percent from 1 percent.
The increase in sales of electrified vehicles helped lower carbon-dioxide emissions to an average of 113 grams per km for the month compared with 118.2 g/km in December, importer association UNRAE said.
The figure last month is still short of the EU target introduced this year, which stipulates a goal of 95 g/km.
Private demand was weak in January, with sales to private customers down 14 percent to 91,902, according to market researcher Dataforce.
Sales to companies declined 17 percent to 6,815, while registrations to long-term rental companies increased 18 percent and sales to short-term rental companies grew by 19 percent.
January had one less selling day than the same month in 2019.
Italy's new-car sales had risen 13 percent in December as automakers rushed to sell higher-emissions models before new EU regulations were introduced on Jan. 1.
Winners and losers
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles's registrations rose just 0.1 percent in January. Fiat brand increased volume by 5.6 percent, helping to offset declines at Jeep ( down 4.3 percent), Lancia (down 5.4 percent), Alfa Romeo (down 27 percent) and Maserati (down 20 percent).
PSA Group's Opel brand's sales dropped 19 percent, while Peugeot declined 13 percent, Citroen registrations fell 1.9 percent and DS registrations increased 193 percent.
Within the Volkswagen Group, VW sales rose 0.6 percent, while Audi rose 22 percent, Skoda gained 29 percent, Seat brand sales increased by 31 percent and Porsche registrations jumped 121 percent.
Renault Group's Dacia brand rose 27 percent, while Renault brand sales declined by 9.8 percent.
- Click here to download Italy sales for January
Ford's registrations were down 19 percent.
Toyota sales were down 12 percent, while Nissan fell 19 percent. Hyundai increased 3.3 percent, while sister brand Kia lost 0.5 percent.
BMW brand sales rose 9 percent, while Mercedes-Benz dropped 15 percent. Smart's volume fell 83 percent after the brand converted to an electric-only automaker, dropping the gasoline version of the ForTwo after Dec. 31.
Dataforce forecasts sales will fall 4.2 percent to 1.84 million vehicles in Italy this year.