Cars: Italy puts brakes on ecological transition – 05/25/2023 at 04:54

Cars: Italy puts brakes on ecological transition – 05/25/2023 at 04:54

Giorgia Meloni speaking to journalists after the European Union summit, in Brussels, March 24, 2023 (AFP/JOHN THYS)

After fighting in vain against the end of combustion engines in new cars from 2035, the national government of Giorgia Meloni is leading a rebellion in Europe against strengthening the car pollution standards proposed by Brussels.

“Italy shows the way, our positions are shared more and more”, assured Monday the Minister of Trade Adolfo Urso, a staunch defender of the national industry in the face of the “ideological vision” of climate change.

So he commented on the joint front of eight European countries, including Italy and France, against the future standard, called Euro 7, which strengthens the conditions for measuring the emission of greenhouse gases from vehicles and should be applied from 2025.

The EU’s proposal “is clearly incorrect and inappropriate even from an environmental point of view”, emphasized the Minister of Transport Matteo Salvini, calling for a “preventive majority” to prevent this project considered too expensive by the car industry.

The League boss (far right), had already led the charge against the disappearance of petrol engines in 2035, considered a “madness” that would “destroy thousands of jobs for Italian workers”, to the benefit of China, ahead of electricity. cars.

After a last-minute threat by Germany to block this move, Brussels cleared the way in March for synthetic fuel demanded by Berlin without acceding to Rome’s demands to approve biofuels to extend the life of heat engines.

Ferrari Monza SP1 will be shown in Paris, January 31, 2019 (AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE)

According to experts, the synthetic fuel technology, controversial and still being developed, would only concern a few luxury cars, such as Ferrari, which welcomed the agreement made by Brussels.

– “Great industrial influence” –

In Italy, “environmental and climate issues are always left behind”, under the pressure of “strong industrial influence” in the automotive and energy sectors, angers the official from Greenpeace Italy, Federico Spadini.

“No government in recent years has been facing environmental challenges. Unfortunately, Italy has not established itself in Europe as a climate champion,” he told AFP.

For him, “it is certain that with Meloni’s government, the situation has become worse”.

An electric Fiat 500 from a car-sharing company in front of a station in Turin, March 29, 2023 (AFP / Marco BERTORELLO)

A red light in Europe, Italy saw sales of electric vehicles drop by 26.9% in 2022 and their market share reached just 3.7%, compared to the EU average of 12.1%. The bonus for the purchase of zero-emission cars proved to be a flop.

“There is no interest in electric cars in Italy. The offer is limited, with only one model made by the national manufacturer Fiat”, notes analyst Felipe Munoz, from the company Jato Dynamics.

In addition, “purchasing power is not very high, people cannot afford electric cars which are expensive. Therefore the demand is low, unlike the Nordic countries”, he explains l AFP.

An opinion that is shared by the CEO of the Italian truck manufacturer Iveco, Gerrit Marx.

“We risk turning into a big Cuba, with very old cars that will continue to drive for many years, because part of the population will not be able to afford an electric model,” he fears.

– Too late –

In 2022, Italy had around 270,000 direct or indirect workers in the automotive sector, which weighs 5.2% of GDP.

Workers work on Fiat’s electric assembly line at the Mirafiori factory in Turin on July 11, 2019 (AFP / Miguel MEDINA)

Going all-electric could lead to the loss of more than 60,000 jobs in Italy by 2035 for car dealers alone, according to their European association (Clepa).

“Italy no longer has a large automotive industry, since the takeover of Fiat and Stellantis in 2021, but it remains important in terms of equipment, all of which focus on traditional engines,” Lorenzo Codogno told AFP. , Italy’s former chief economist. Treasure.

Italy has gone backwards in terms of car electrification, the trade unions and the government have agreed.

“If the endothermic engine disappears immediately, we still won’t be able to use electricity,” fears Alberto Pastorello, regional secretary of the Uilm union.

“We are far behind, in Italy there are 36,000 charging stations compared to 90,000 in Little Holland”, also admitted Minister Adolfo Urso.