|Nr.56 / Nov.Dec.2004|
And the Stars are watching…
Traditionally, a balance is done at the end of the year and future perspectives and good will are determined. Despite the risk of being taken for granted, we will do it anyway and try to delineate a little balance of “clean mobility” year.
Year 2004 started in Italy with an increase of the excise on petrol– 0.0168 Euro/litre. It could have been the classical good start, were it not for the very much requested diminution of LPG excise, following European regulations – the measure only brought a few million Euros in the most hungry pockets of internal revenue. Not a significant result for sustainable mobility, transformations or motor transportation gas sales. The Government forgot once more that the only eco-compatible possibility actually available now for urban and extra-urban routes is gas, be it LPG or methane (while we wait for hydrogen).
On the contrary, the increase of just the petrol price was counterproductive, as it appeared like an incentive not to buy diesel cars, with all the environmental effects that brings about. Sales of diesel cars in 2004 increased dramatically (just like PM10s!): new diesel registrations (57%) are more than petrol ones (43%). Talking about orders, the effect is even more obvious - 62% diesel vs. 38% petrol. All of this despite all those who don’t believe that the choice of a vehicle depends on the cost of the type of fuel. The first six months of the year passed by with the usual ups-and-downs, big promises, many meetings, launch of new initiatives, same old expectations, but little of everything…
On the contrary, the second semester started with a great advertisement event that really stirred the waters which had been still for too long, of general communication among ecologic mobility operators. The campaign was basic but efficient, and substantially reminded the audience of a fact that had been disregarded too often: with a gas vehicle you save, you don’t pollute and you can always drive around.The result was superior to the wildest expectations. Everybody got the message, installation requests grew in Italy, the media was more attentive and – this is the main thing – institutions were finally able to detect the mass effect. Basically the field got out of the niche. If one considers that, compared to any traditional campaign set up by any middle-sized company, the investment was little more that negligible - it was success in terms of money and look. No need to hide that this campaign even highly contributed to the launch of vehicles such LPG Subaru that pushed even more the general interest towards gas and raised the level of general interest on this type of fuel.
Finally, the year ended under two important flags – the first one is everybody’s systematic request that the LPG excise be changed in line with European directives (which recommend an aliquot for gas fuel that is less than half the present one in Italy), in order to be able to reduce the price of gas fuel and subsidize its use. On the other hand, good and more solid news are coming from local Italian governments. We are facing a real independent institutional campaign to subsidize alternative fuels. In Roma, in Lombardy, in Piedmont, in Tuscany, and in other small and big places (if you want the details, you’ll have to pay…), there are already efficient initiatives that aim to obtain locally what cannot be done on a national level. In Treviso, the provincial government had an advertisement campaign (press and TV) to recommend the use of motor-propulsion gas with financial contributions of various kinds. In Lombardy, the Region even issued a “fuel card” that gives right to a 10% discount for those using LPG and methane. In the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano nobody pays any fee stamp for three years, both on purchases and on transformations to gas and for electric-powered vehicles. In Piedmont, those who own a gas-registered vehicle are exempt. In Turin, the program "Non inquino Torino" (I don’t pollute Turin) will soon start… And everybody in Italy will then continue to subsidize.
So to say – let’s hope for the best. We should be optimistic about next year. In fact, in a few cases the fall of road LPG sales is diminishing (a warning – the fall is slowing down, sales aren’t rising…). That’s good, one might think. But we say no, it’s absolutely not good at all. Because a lot could be done with such a small effort. And we’re not just thinking of insufficient national initiatives – an old saying goes “Help yourself, and Heaven will help you.” That means – make an effort, and something will happen. But here, it’s the opposite. Heaven helps, but it has to do almost everything by itself. The starts are there, just watching. Let’s think about what could happen if alternative mobility operators finally did something to help themselves.
The cover of the nr. 56 nov/dec. 2004
Converting Workshop in Italy (pdf)
4 questions to the Italian Government (pdf)
Countdown started for air poisons (pdf)
Eco-incentives for Local Italian authorities (pdf)
A few thoughts on Zero Emission Vehicles (pdf)
2 is better than (pdf)
Eco-Vehicles: contributions for all users
Caratteristiche e prezzi dei veicoli ecologici in Italia