Environment and Automotive Sector: Meloni Government’s Approach

Environment - April 7, 2024

In the run-up to the European elections, to be held on 8 and 9 June, there is once again talk at European level about the environment and internal combustion cars. Last year, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced a halt to the sale of internal combustion cars from 2035 determined by the European Commission, Parliament and Council (October 2023).

Recently, when von der Leyen announced her candidature for the European elections, she picked up the subject once again, reporting: “We have a law stating that by 2035 we must have zero emissions and, at the Commission’s proposal, there is a special role for e-fuels. It is very important that in 2026 we’ll have a review regarding this matter, to make sure that there are opportunities for consumers but also for producers.” The President wanted to remind us that 2035 is an important date, but not a peremptory one, considering that, as determined last year, in 2026 we will be able to discuss a review. This is an important step in the process leading to zero emissions.

The revision will therefore have to be necessary, considering that the data tell of a growth in terms of registrations and use of eco-sustainable cars, but not substantial enough as to lead to the disuse of engines other than hybrid or fully electric.


The 2023 agreement

The agreement attained aims to reduce the average emissions of new cars by 15 per cent by 2025, 55 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035, compared to 2021.

The need to lower emissions as much as possible is therefore not up for discussion; the environmental issue requires great attention and nothing can be left to chance any more.

The idea is that hybrid and electric cars will gradually become the norm, and that requires an adjustment of the automotive market and, above all, the active participation of buyers. But it is not that simple; at present, the economic crisis Europe is going through and the citizens’ loss of purchasing power do not allow for such a big leap. According to the data about electric cars released by the ev-volumes.com platform, Europe is the second largest market in the world with over 2 million vehicles (+26.8%) and a +16 percentage point increase compared to the year 2022. Among the countries that have seen a significant growth, also looking ahead to 2035, is Germany, which has seen the registration of 524,000 electric cars. Great Britain and France are also keeping pace, with 315,000 and 298,000 units respectively registered in the past year. Italy, on the other hand, despite being one of the main European markets, only counted 66 thousand new registrations in 2022.

There is therefore a need to intervene, to change course in order to comply with European standards and to meet targets.

The government led by Giorgia Meloni has shown sensitivity to the issue of emissions and, from 2023, several important measures have been planned to be implemented in this regard, including incentives and interventions to be employed in the years to come.


Electric cars: bonuses and incentives

The bonus introduced with the 2023 budget manoeuvre concerning the installation of electric charging stations has also been extended for 2024. In recent months there has been much debate about the trend of the electric car market in Italy, for two reasons: the first one concerns the partly worrying decreasing data concerning the sector; the second one is purely practical: how can the purchase of electric cars be encouraged? How to compensate for the lack of charging stations? The answers can be found in the measures that the government has carefully considered. These include an 80 per cent bonus for the installation of private charging stations: approximatively 40 million euros have been earmarked, plus an extension to 2024 which has in fact been confirmed.

At Palazzo Piacentini, the headquarters of the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy in Rome, a meeting of the Automotive Table was held on 1 February “for the presentation of the contents of the Prime Minister’s decree on the restructuring of incentives for the purchase of low-polluting-emission vehicles (Ecobonus)”, according to a note issued by the Ministry in question.

The meeting, chaired by Minister Urso, holder of the ministry, was attended by Deputy Minister Valentino Valentini, Undersecretary Fausta Bergamotto, and by representatives of companies that produce vehicles in Italy, of trade unions and of employers’ organisations in the sector, of the Regions and of ANFIA.

Briefly, they presented the novelties inherent to the Ecobonus, i.e. incentives for the purchase of low-polluting emission vehicles, and the resources made available by the government itself, amounting to 950 million euros, to breathe new life into the sector. The resources will be distributed as follows: 793 million for cars; 35 million for mopeds, motorbikes and quadricycles; 53 million for light commercial vehicles; 20 million for used cars; 50 million for an experimental long-term rental programme.

Urso did not fail to illustrate the programme of incentives planned for 2024 “for the purchase and installation of recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles at home”. A dense programme, built from multiple actions and articulated in such a way that the objectives can be reached easily.


Minister Adolfo Urso’s comment: “More ecological sustainability, with an eye on social sustainability

This new plan of incentives for the automotive sector”, Urso explained, “stands on three pillars: the renewal of the Italian car fleet, one of the oldest in Europe; the support for the demand of people on lower incomes; the revival of vehicle production in Italy. This approach is based on the conviction that a profound change of course from previous years is necessary”.

Lastly, he reported: “More ecological sustainability, with an eye on social sustainability, given the special attention paid to low-income families and companies in the national supply chain, a fundamental part of our Made in Italy”.

So, as anticipated, the government intends to reverse direction, to move towards a change that also has the task of determining new routes in terms of production and growth for the country.


Development of the sector, Giorgia Meloni’s commitment

An approach that even Meloni herself has repeatedly outlined as the way forward. During a recent question time at the Chamber of Deputies, the Prime Minister explained on the subject: “We want to establish a balanced relationship with Stellantis, so much so that Minister Urso has met with them several times to preserve production, employment, and revenue in Italy. We have signed a MIMIT-ANFIA protocol, set up a permanent table for the development of the sector, and provided incentives such as the Ecobonus to support demand and funding measures for new investors and manufacturers”.

She continued: “Lastly, we have changed the rules by incentivising those who return to produce in Italy and discouraging those who relocate, who will have to return any public benefits or subsidies received in the last 10 years”.

She concluded: “We want to go back to producing one million vehicles a year with those who really want to invest in historic Italian excellence. If you want to sell a car on the international market by advertising it as an Italian jewel, then that car must be produced in Italy. That is the issue we must address”.