Italy - Country Commercial Guide
Automotive Sector

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-29


The automotive sector is one of Italy’s major industries. In 2019, turnover was almost €106 billion (about $119 billion), which accounts for 11% of Italy’s manufacturing turnover and 6.2% of Italy’s GDP. The conversion from thermal engines to electromobility (hybrid and electric) is reshaping the sector and may offer opportunities for U.S. vehicle component, charging infrastructure, and diagnostic equipment manufacturers. Major changes in the circulating stock may also drive the development of the aftermarket sector in Italy.

Automotive Sector

In 2019, the number of vehicles produced in Italy exceeded 914,000, representing a 13.9% decrease from 2018. There were 1,381,496 new vehicles registered in 2020, which is a 27.9% decrease in comparison to 2019. The leading vehicle brands were Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Group (24.1% market share), Volkswagen Group (16.3%), and Peugeot SA (PSA) Group (14.8%). In January 2021, FCA and PSA merged and became Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automotive group. In 2020, FCA and PSA combined sold 537,485 units in Italy, which accounts for 38.9% of the market. Ford Motor Company sold 89,558 units, and Tesla sold 3,804 units. In 2020, gasoline and diesel vehicle registrations decreased significantly, while registrations for alternative fuel cars grew. While sales of both LPG and methane-fueled vehicles substantially decreased, there was a sharp growth in sales of hybrid and electric cars. Most recent data (July 2021) shows that the market is still weak (110,282 units sold, down 28.1% compared to 2019, and down 19.4 compared to 2020. Electric vehicles were 4.6% of the market, plug-in hybrids were 5.7% and full hybrid vehicles were 29.4% of the market. Hybrid car sales exceeded gasoline sales (27.4%) and diesel (22.7%.) 

Incentives for purchasing and limits on the entry of traditional cars into city centers are helping drive the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. The Ministry of Economic Development offers grants for purchasing low emission vehicles, which are valid both for cars and light commercial vehicles. The national incentives, valid until December 31, 2021 are expected to sustainably increase mobility and stimulate the automotive market. However, incentives to buy electric vehicles are not enough to support this change in mobility. A suitable charging infrastructure is needed to allow people to charge their vehicles quickly and safely. The number of charging stations in Italy is growing rapidly (23,000 units in June 2021).

Rechargeable vehicles are still a small part of the circulating stock (200,000 units in July 2021)

The development of electric models is changing the component manufacturers’ investments. A recent survey demonstrated that almost 30% of component manufacturers had electric and/or hybrid vehicles as their main production focus:

Motorcycle sector

Italy is one of the most important European markets for motorcycles. The two and three-wheelers sector in Italy produces yearly 300,000 units and is the leader in Europe. Motorcycle sales suffered less in 2020 than sales of autos.  Motorcycle sales totaled 218,626 vehicles, representing only a 5.8% reduction from 2019. The need for individual mobility, also determined by the pandemic, and the lower purchase and operating costs compared to cars, helped avoid a sharp reduction in this market. In 2020, electric motorbike sales exceeded 10,000 units (an increase of over 84% on 2019.) National level incentives will be in place until 2026 (a total of 150 million euros, about $168 million).

Aftermarket Accessories

Small importers dominate the distribution channels in the market for automotive accessories and specialty equipment. U.S. products and new technology are well received and accepted by local companies, and therefore, opportunities exist for products with cutting edge technology. Major changes in the circulating stock will likely affect the automotive aftermarket sector. Some experts believe that the different features of hybrid (especially electric) vehicles will increase the need for diagnostic and testing tools.

The aftermarkets for the motorcycle and automotive sectors feature broadly similar distribution channels. However, customers in the different sectors require different high-tech content and design features when buying helmets, suits, boots etc. There is also a sizable market for custom motorcycles.

Best prospects for U.S. Exports / Opportunities

Opportunities exist for EV software systems, including charging station software; EV battery technologies; EVs; electric bicycles and electric scooters; diagnostics & testing instruments and vehicle technology.

In-Person or Virtual Events

EICMA; sector: Bicycles and motorcycles; November 23-28, 2021;

Motor Bike Expo; sector: Motorcycles; January 13-16, 2022;

Autopromotec; sector: Automotive; May 25-28, 2022;


U.S. Commercial Service Contact Information

Andrea Rosa (Mr.); Automotive Commercial Specialist; American Consulate, Milan, Italy, ; +39 02 62 68 85 23