Italy has been an electric-car backwater in Europe, but a new populist government has dramatic plans to change that.
According to a Bloomberg report, the new Five Star government elected in March is calling for incentives to put 1 million electric cars on Italy's roads by 2022.
Last year, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association showed only 2,600 electric cars were sold in Italy, along with other 2,200 plug-in hybrid vehicles. The country has fewer than 5,000 electric cars registered today, Bloomberg estimates. That number puts it last among 16 large Western European countries.
Selling 1 million electric cars would transform Italy into the No. 1 market for electric cars in Europe and require government incentives larger than those in Norway, currently Europe's clear leader in electric car sales. Between tax breaks, exemptions from tolls, free parking and more, Norway's incentives are estimated at $10,400 per electric car, according to Bloomberg.
To sell 1 million electric cars could cost Italy $10 billion in incentives, according to Italian auto industry analyst Promotor research institute.
In March elections, the internet-based, anti-establishment Five Star party, founded less than 10 years ago, got the most votes. To reach a governing majority, the party is forming a coalition with the rival League. The million-car goal, first articulated as part of 31-year-old Five Star party leader Luigi Di Maio's campaign, is part of a draft document forming the coalition.
The governing contract calls for a reduction in gasoline and diesel cars through a cash-for-clunkers program, according to Bloomberg.
A government spokesman confirmed the goal to Bloomberg but would not comment on the cost.
Rome has issued a ban on diesel cars in the city starting in 2024.
Few Italian automakers build electric cars and Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the country's largest automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has expressed skepticism of electric cars and said the company loses $14,000 on every Fiat 500e it builds.