FIAT 500 Electric with its electric drive. Images courtesy of ENEA.
The automotive industry exceeds 5% of the national GDP. In Italy, there are about 3,500 enterprises in the automotive sector, employing about 1.2 million direct and indirect workers. The automotive industry invests more than €2 billion in R&D per year.
In 2010, a periodic survey by the Italian Electric Road Vehicle Association (CIVES) confirmed that around 50 producers, assemblers, and importers in the country are able to manufacture or supply HEVs and EVs. The components industries have become more active with new commitments on advanced batteries and charging stations, while the producers of power electronics, complete electric and hybrid drivetrains, and electric motors are improving their products.
Most of these companies are small and medium enterprises. Italy also has larger companies which are developing EVs and fuel cell vehicles, including Fiat, Pininfarina, and battery company FIAMM. Heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers (Breda Menarini, Piaggio, Cacciamali, and IVECO) are introducing various innovations such as a hybrid drivetrain to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions.
Large foreign companies such as Toyota, Honda, Renault, Daimler-Smart, and Peugeot are also bringing HEVs to the Italian market, while EVs will be sold after preliminary demonstration projects.
EVs and HEVs available for purchase in Italy cover the full spectrum of categories, including power-assisted bikes, scooters (with two, three, or four wheels), light- and heavy-duty pure electric and hybrid buses, and electric boats. Hundreds of EV and HEV models are now available on the market. Retail prices range from a few hundred euros for power-assisted bikes to hundreds of thousands of euros for hybrid buses. An EV still costs about two or three times more than a conventional vehicle while HEVs have much less of a price differential.