Fiat's Panda was top of the best sellers list last month, with 13,484 sales although it's flagging and shed four thousand sales year-on-year. The Panda was also the second best-selling LPG-fuelled car in March, with 960 units being registered in this format, as well as the second most in demand methane-powered car with 659 sales specified to this fuel.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) downturn on the Italian market accelerated last month and it finished the first quarter on a bleak note, sales dropping almost 13% year-on-year to 59,779 units during March while the overall market shed 5.75%.

In total 213,731 new passenger cars were sold in Italy last month, down thirteen thousand units year-on-year as car sales continue to lose ground in the wake of a general election that has provided the nation with no clear outcome.

The year for new car sales had started positively in January but quickly turned negative last month and that decline continued into March.

FCA had started the Italian year flat during January, although it underperformed a rising market, last month it succumbed to the negative trend to underperform the market and fall ten percent while this month it fell again as its margin to the negative market widened. It leaves FCA needing to work fast to manage the situation and connect buyers with its products in a tougher environment.

FCA’s March fall represented a loss of nine thousand units when compared to the same month last year and its share of the total market shrank to just 27.97%.

The Fiat brand dragged FCA’s performance down as it slumped by ten thousand units to and a fifth to 40,228 units in March, however Alfa Romeo provided a much brighter spot as its sales climbed by 17.04% year-on-year to 5,372 units and its share of the market was up by half a point to 2.51%.

Lancia’s accelerated decline continued as its single, ageing model, the Ypsilon, is now losing ground fast and its sales fell 36.62% year-on-year during March to 5,265 units and that added up to a 2.46% market share.

Maserati also suffered a sales slump last month; the Trident brand was down 23.84% to 278 units. Finally, FCA’s Jeep brand was up 76.74% to 8,609 units.

For the first quarter of 2018 the Italian new car market is down slightly, losing 1.55%, to 574,130 units while FCA has fallen much faster than the market, it’s on 159,148 units and down 8.24% on the first three months of last year to claim a 27.72% share of all sales so far this year.

The Fiat brand is on 107,211 sales for the first quarter and down 15.53% while Alfa Romeo provides a better picture, its sales are up by a fifth to 14,406 units. Lancia is down 35.65% to 13,701 units and Maserati is also swathed in red ink, losing 13.5% to 814 units. Finally, FCA’s American Jeep brand is up 86.95% to 22,924 units.

Elsewhere, Lamborghini’s sales were down by almost a third in March to 14 units but for the year-to-date its up 5.41% to 39 units. DR Motor, which assembles Chinese cars in Italy from CKD kits saw its sales rise by three quarters in March albeit it to just 87 units while for the first three months sales are up a similar amount to 211 units.

Despite the Fiat brand’s fall in sales last month it continued to provide the market’s top four best sellers and as usual the Panda was top of the tree, with 13,484 sales, which was more than double the next car, the 500X, which came in on 6,226 sales although the Panda is flagging now and it shed four thousand sales year-on-year. The Panda was also the second best-selling LPG-fuelled car, with 960 units being registered in this format, as well as the second most in demand methane-powered car with 659 sales specified to this fuel.

The 500X is one of the few FCA models to make year-on-year gains and was up six hundred units on the same month last year while topping C-segment and it was also the top selling diesel car on the market with two thirds of its sales coming in that format.

The third best seller was the Tipo (5,772 units) and, despite shedding two and a half thousand units year-on-year, it was still the second most demanded car in C-segment for March (behind the 500X) and the second best-selling diesel car with three quarters of its sales volume coming as oil burners while a further 638 sales came in LPG-fuel format. It was also the best-selling estate car with 2,491 units being in this format.

The 500 hatchback was the fourth best-selling car in Italy last month, with 5,596 units, as well as being the second best selling in A-segment behind the Panda.

Ford’s Fiesta was Italy’s fifth best seller last month just ahead of the Ypsilon (5,265 units) in sixth – that pair were also the top two sellers in B-segment – while Jeep’s Renegade (4,448 units) in tenth place made it six FCA models in the March top ten.

Just outside the top ten came the 500L (4,207 units) in twelfth; it was Italy’s best-selling MPV for the month just gone.

The fourteenth best-selling car was Jeep’s Compass (3,879 units) while the ageing B-segment Fiat Punto (3,072 units) nabbed the final spot in the top twenty. The Punto remains popular with methane fueled car buyers with 384 of its sales coming in that format.

With 1,629 sales the Stelvio SUV was Alfa Romeo’s best seller and Italy’s thirtieth best-selling car in March as well as being a robust second in D-segment while the Giulietta wasn’t too far behind with 1,653 units sold. However, the hatchback model has now vanished from its customary place amongst the C-segment top ten best sellers. The Stelvio’s platform sister, the Giulia is struggling in Italy as everywhere, and sedan dropped out of a place amongst the D-segment best sellers.

The specific passenger carrying versions of Fiat Professional’s Qubo and Doblo sold 763 and 351 units respectively last month with the former seeing its sales more than halving year-on-year while for the latter demand was slightly up.

With 231 sales during March Fiat’s 124 Spider was Italy’s best-selling cabriolet model while the high performance Abarth version accounted for a further 76 units.

Elsewhere, the Ghibli was the second best seller in F-segment and Maserati’s top selling model with 94 units being purchased during March, which was up 12 units on the same month last year.

It’s the same story for the top four selling cars in Italy for the year-to-date with the Panda now on 35,076 units followed by the 500X (16,812 units) which is up three and a half thousand units on the same period last year and the Tipo (16,008 units) whose sales are flat. The Tipo is Italy’s most popular estate car for the year-to-date with 6,274 units having been sold in the extended format.

The 500 (15,715 units) makes it four Fiat brand models in the top four sellers for the year-to-date but the hatchback has lost one and a half thousand units when compared to the same period last year. Italy’s fifth best seller after the opening three months of 2018 is the Ypsilon (13,702 units) while the 500L (12,553 units) is tenth and the country’s best-selling MPV for the year-to-date.

Then comes Jeep’s Renegade (11,254 units) and Compass (10,989 units), the thirteenth and fourteenth best sellers, respectively, so far this year.

With 6,597 units finding buyers in 2018 the Punto is the twenty fourth best seller while the Giulietta is Alfa Romeo’s top seller for the year-to-date and is now on 5,502 units, however it’s down just over a thousand units when compared to the opening three months of last year.

The Stelvio is on 4,228 units for the year-to-date and the third best seller in D-segment. The Giulia sedan though is struggling to gain traction, it’s on 2,403 sales for the first quarter which is flat on the same period last year.

Fiat’s Qubo is on 2,376 units for the year-to-date, a loss of one thousand units over the same period last year, while the Doblo is on 924 sales and down a few dozen units on the first three months of 2017.

The 124 Spider is Italy’s best-selling cabriolet for the year so far, with 376 units sold, but with its sales down by a quarter on the same period last year. The Abarth 124 version accounts for a further 117 units but its demand for the ‘Scorpion’ brand version has significantly shrunk year-on-year.

Amongst the luxury brands, for Maserati its number one seller is the Ghibli which has totted up 284 sales for the year-to-date and is a robust 51 units up on the same period last year while Ferrari’s best seller for the first quarter is the 488 (Coupé and Spider combined) on 58 units. 

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Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / 2018 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed