Italy and e-mobility, a new era is dawning

Published on Monday, 4 September 2017

The e-Mobility Revolution is here and now and is arriving also in Italy. There is huge potential for the sector of electric mobility in Italy: the market for electric vehicles and the production chain as a whole (transport, recharging infrastructure, ICT services, recycling and battery second life), is estimated to generate revenues of between 24 and 100 billion euros by 2025 and between 68 and 303 billion euros by 2030.

This is the scenario described in the report e-Mobility Revolution, compiled by The European House-Ambrosetti, in collaboration with Enel’s Global Business Line e-Solutions, and presented on 3 September on the final day of the Forum in Cernobbio at Villa d’Este on Lake Como, the international meeting where heads of state, institutions and big business have been coming together since 1975 to discuss the progress and trends in the global economy.

According to the report, Italy, with its strong manufacturing DNA, can continue to excel in the conventional car industry, the production of components, bodywork and interiors, and extend its range of activities to include new sectors, such as recharging systems and the electricity network, which could be worth an overall value of 180 billion euro by 2030.

For Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel X, Italy has a formidable opportunity and it must create the conditions to exploit the industrial knock-on effects of e-mobility. “It is necessary to take advantage of the components industry, in which Italy excels, and also of IT and electronics that play a huge role in the management of battery charging.”

The diffusion of electric cars, added Venturini, has a very significant impact in terms of sustainability, not only because of their contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in transport but also because they support the penetration of renewable energy in Italy. “The electric car, in so far as it is a mobile battery, is the ideal link between the production of renewables and new forms of mobility,” explained the head of Enel X. The new backup and storage systems, in fact, make the electric car into a “mobile battery on four wheels”, capable not only of storing but also releasing energy through the V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology developed by Enel, thus creating a circular pathway that can, on one hand help balance green energy production and on the other, make the sale of electricity more widespread.

There is no doubting the potential of the global shift towards electric mobility: the percentage of electric cars has increased by 94% in ten years and new car registrations by 72%. In 2016, 2 million electric and hybrid electric plug in vehicles entered circulation, 9,820 of which were in Italy (+60% compared with the previous year). In Italy, the European country with the highest level of car ownership and one of the last in terms of e-mobility, the number of electric vehicles has grown at an average rate of 41% between 2005 and 2016, peaking at 96% in the first months of 2017.

These figures confirm the potential of the sector for the competitiveness of the country. Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager of Enel, highlighted that in order to take full advantage of this opportunity, it is necessary to create an extensive infrastructure of charging stations. Such an intervention across the territory can be implemented thanks to European funds destined for the Regions and Enel, through the Global Business Line e-Solutions, is ready to invest up to 300 million euros in the next three years to install up to 12 thousand units. The aim is to break down the final taboo inhibiting the take-up of electric vehicles: the perception that electric cars are not capable of travelling long distances.

“With this study we aim to create a new awareness among policymakers and in the industrial sector,” explained Starace. “In Italy, in fact, we have the only digitalized medium and low voltage network in the world, capable of supporting a rapid expansion in the use of electric vehicles on a large scale.”

For the compilation of the report e-Mobility Revolution, The European House Ambrosetti set up an advisory board including international experts such as Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT Senseable City Laboratory in the United States, and Maria Chiara Carrozza, professor of industrial bio-engineering and member of the III Commission on Foreign and European Affairs at the Chamber of Deputies in the Italian Parliament.

The study offers a thorough analysis of the sector, creating the first ever mapping of the Italian value chain for e-mobility, which today includes 160 thousand businesses and 823 thousand employees. Furthermore, the report outlines a measurement tool for use in the immediate future: the Electric Transport Index (ITE). This index facilitates the analysis of the performance of Italy’s 20 Regions and 14 metropolitan cities in order to develop a vision in the mid to long-term, also with reference to national policy. Without a strategic coordination on a political level, in fact, there is a risk that Italy will lose out on the European finance for infrastructure as well as jobs in the industry.

The e-Mobility Revolution report, therefore, offers an analysis of the scenario in order to begin to tell a new story of excellence in Italian manufacturing and car production that is more sustainable and greener, from electric motors to batteries and electric power sockets.