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Will Diesel survive it all? | Automotive sector

Will Diesel survive it all?  |  Automotive sector

In 2023, Italian motorists spent €70.9 billion on petrol and diesel, a slight decrease (-0.3%) compared to the historical peak in 2022 (71.1 billion). It is true that in the meantime, tax concessions on fuel (excise tax and value-added tax) decreased significantly, and consequently state income increased by 22.7% compared to the previous year.

The important figure – given the “green” goals – is that diesel consumption is still very high, reaching 28 billion liters (compared to 22.1 in 2000), which far exceeds gasoline consumption, which reached 11.1 billion liters. last year. The data is also surprising because in 2000 the ratio was approximately equal. Gasoline was consumed slightly more (22.4 billion litres) than diesel.

Of the 70.9 billion euros spent on fuel in 2023, 38.1 billion euros entered state coffers in the form of taxes. As for the industrial component, i.e. payments to producers, manufacturers and distributors, it amounted to 32.8 billion.

If we examine the trends in consumption of the two types of fuel, i.e. gasoline and diesel, between the years 2000 and 2023, it becomes clear that while the level of consumption at the beginning of the twenty-first century was at approximately the same level, in 2023 the ratio of diesel to gasoline consumption was two and a half times greater.

A study was recently published in the Italian automotive trade press on the fact that approx. There are 2.6 million diesel cars on Italian roads with “suspicious levels” of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. This figure also includes an estimated 1.9 million vehicles that have severe NOx emissions and are likely to use banned emissions processing devices. In other words, under normal circumstances, they would simply fail the technical test. However, the Italian government does not dare risk taking these approximately 2 million cars out of circulation overnight.

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By the end of 2022, the number of cars in circulation will rise to 39.3 million cars in Italy, which has a population of 59 million people. The average age of cars is more than 12 years. The data shows a picture of an aging and irreversible car inventory.

About 25% of the more than 39 million cars in circulation are over 17 years old and before Euro 4. Commercial vehicles also add to this: 41% of the 4.2 million vehicle fleet was before Euro 4. The number of industrial vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tons 725 thousand vehicles, more than 50% of which are Euro 4, with an average age of 14.3 years. There are 62,400 buses in circulation, the average age is 12 years.

The energy transition, albeit slowly, is progressing: in 2022, the share of gasoline engines fell from 30% to 27.7%, and that of diesel engines from 22.1% to 19.6%, so that the leading role is now for hybrid cars by 34.%.

However, the share of electric cars decreased to 8.8%, placing Italy in last place in a comparison of the five largest European markets. Germany tops the list (31.4%), followed by the United Kingdom (22.9%), France (21.6%), and Spain (9.7%).

Poorly designed incentives and inadequate charging infrastructure are among the reasons Italians are lagging behind. Based on the number of charging stations – in a European comparison – Italy ranks only fifteenth with 33,000 charging points. This means 6.7 charging opportunities per 100 kilometres, compared to the European average of 8.9.

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