Milan, Italy – Italy’s new-car sales fell 8.8% to 162,793 in February, according to data from the ministry of infrastructure and transport, as the market reeled from the country's coronavirus outbreak.
Sales to private customers fell 19%, following a 14% decline in January, according to market researcher Dataforce, while sales to companies fell 23%.
Those declines were partially offset by a 17% rise in registrations by long-term rental companies and a 19% increase in sales to short-term rental companies.
The coronavirus outbreak, which forced Italian authorities to limit movements in many regions of northern Italy starting in late February, had an impact.
Demand in the provinces of Lodi and Cremona, where the majority of coronavirus cases have been reported, dropped 35% and 23%, respectively.
Sales in the province of Milan, which at that time was not included in the lockdown area but was subject to some precautionary measures, declined by 17%.
Although the outbreak's impact was marginal in February, Michele Crisci, chairman of importer association UNRAE, said he fears registrations could fall significantly in the coming months.
According to UNRAE, there is a high risk that full-year sales will be closer to 1.5 million, down from a forecast of 1.9 million prior to the outbreak. In 20189, 1.91 million vehicles were sold in Italy.