Italians could see ‘fashionable’ EVs as the way forward believes Enel

17 April 2018

17 April 2018

Italians will see electric vehicles (EVs) as ′trendy’ and will, therefore, find it easier to fit them into their lifestyles, according to the head of energy supplier Enel.

Consumers across Europe are being driven into the technology through environmental concerns, with others finding the higher performance a factor. However, Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, believes that the insatiable desire to be fashionable will move consumers to the technology, allowing to keep up with the latest trends.

′Italians like electric cars because it is a new and fashionable concept,’ Starace said during an interview in London. ′Plus, they are really fun to drive. If you judge interest based on that, the market in Italy will pick up for sure.’

Annual sales of new electric vehicles have doubled in Italy over the last four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, with quarter-on-quarter growth averaging 14% between 2015 and 2017. The numbers are in line with the European average.

However, diesel vehicles still maintain the highest market share in the country. Manufacturers are pushing towards vehicle electrification due to a declining diesel market in Europe, leading to rising CO2 levels and the threat of fines for those breaching targets in 2021. Italy is one of the few countries where diesel still dominates the new registration figures, although, in March, its share fell from 56.4% to 54.5% according to figures from the country’s motoring authority, the ANFIA. In the same month, petrol share increased by just 0.6% to 33.9%, while alternatively fuelled vehicles counted for the remaining 12.6%.

Enel, which is based in the Italian capital of Rome, has been looking to diversify its way into the EV market by partnering with carmakers, such as Volkswagen (VW), to bundle the sale of domestic charging stations with the sale of new EVs. The company is also planning to invest up to €300 million to install 14,000 charging stations in Italy by 2022.

With key automakers including Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz set to launch new EVs between 2020 and 2021, including investments in ′multi-billion-euro plants,’ the main opportunity for Enel could be the private market for charging stations in Italy, Starace said. ′Assuming 300,000 electric cars, even if half will require a charging station, that’s already a lot.’

The company has signalled its interest in the electric market by signing a five-year extension of a partnership with ABB FIA Formula E, the first electric-car racing series. As part of the deal, Enel will install for each race a mini-grid including smart meters with energy-management systems. The series includes races in some of Europe’s biggest cities.

′For sure’ there will be a growing fleet of electric cars in Italy, Starace said, adding that it’s not yet possible to make more precise forecasts. The explosion in e-cars will come ′maybe be 2022, maybe 2023, and we want to be accelerators for this change.’