In 2020, 2 million bikes were sold, but the car is recovering. Not the rental one yet

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The new mobility has lost two wheels, at least last year when more than two million bicycles were sold in Italy, even + 44% for electric ones. However, the “green” wave linked to Covid does not seem to be too long. Not according to Aniasa, the Confindustria association representing the mobility services sector, which anticipated the 20th edition of the Report that analyzes the market and trends. Not even according to the consulting firm Bain & Company. The car is “increasingly central to travel”, while micro-mobility represents an “occasional solution”, says the association. Not to mention zero-emission cars, whose purchases, still very limited, are concentrated in large cities and in the Center-North and depend mainly on fleets. Travel can become truly “alternative” when the need for mobility of 88% of the population living outside the “metropolis” in Italy is met.

The pandemic brought the sector back by six years with total registrations of 355,000 units (-32%). Long-term rental suffered less because it managed to extend existing contracts: turnover even increased (+ 2% to 7.9 billion compared to 2019), the fleet in circulation grew by 2.4% (934,000 vehicles ), while registrations fell by 24% (213,000). The virus has “earthquake” short-term loans and car sharing. The number of rentals fell by 60 and 53% respectively, with significant decreases also in the number of vehicles available. Rent-a-car operators estimate a return to pre-Covid levels only in 2023. “The pandemic has temporarily slowed the advance of rental mobility and sharing in our country”, summarized the president of Aniasa Massimiliano Archiapatti . Economic hardship alone is not enough to explain the second thoughts of Italians, who have chosen alternative options, at least in the very short term. The use of teleworking and the blocking of tourist flows also contributed. The association also complained that the PNRR has “practically ignored the automotive sector” and warned that today “concrete measures are needed to accelerate the renewal of the national car park” by abandoning “definitively the ideological approach to mobility”.

This is because the car sector was the most affected by the pandemic: 10 billion euros in cash loss and 9 billion more in debt. Aniasa also insists on the need to encourage the acceleration of the “replacement of the 11 million vehicles with over 15 years of service”. The first quarter of 2021 did not reverse the trend of the three rental sectors. Openings and tourism should project new horizons, on which, however, the shadows of the lack of semiconductors stretch. The relaunch also involves aligning the tax treatment of company cars, at least according to the Aniasa which cites the abysmal differences compared to Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom.

It remains to be seen whether Italians really want the government to allocate money to the sector, while continuing to have the car as their preferred means of transport (2 out of 3 usually use it). Scooters (an electric one has just been given to Pope Francis) and bikes, including pedal assisted bikes, are already being used less, reveals the research by Bain & Company, which in May interviewed a widely defined sample of 1,000 residents in major cities . Public transport “struggles to be competitive” not only because of travel times, but also because of costs: 0.15 euros per kilometer, just half compared to 30 cents for a used car (0.6 for a new). The bike beats everything with just 0.02 euros per kilometer (0.2 for bike sharing). Electric scooter and car sharing arrive at 0.6 and 1.15 euros per kilometer respectively. Taxis remain the most expensive (2.9).

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