Italy talks to Tesla, others in search for second carmaker

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 7:53 AM

ROME (Reuters) – Italy has been in talks with Tesla and other carmakers, including from Asian countries, as it tries to attract another manufacturer and reach an annual output target of 1.3 million vehicles, the industry minister said on Wednesday.

“We’re having a positive feedback in talks to have a second carmaker in Italy,” Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said during a parliamentary hearing.

Italy, where the sole major automaker is Stellantis, produced 750,000 vehicles last year — both passenger cars and vans.

Urso said Italy needed to produce at least 1.3 million vehicles a year to preserve its national auto industry amid challenges posed by the transition to electric mobility.

The government was “aware it is impossible” for Fiat-maker Stellantis to reach those targets on its own, he added.

The government and Stellantis are already holding talks aimed at increasing the group’s output in the country back to one million units per year by the end of this decade, a figure last hit in 2017.

Bloomberg News this week quoted Michael Shu, the managing director for Europe of BYD, as saying Rome had also contacted the Chinese EV maker as part of its efforts to attract a second producer to the country.

A BYD source told Reuters that talks were not recent and that they occurred when the group was still assessing options for its first European plant, which it eventually decided to build in Hungary. BYD has not yet communicated if it has plans for a second plant in Europe.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte in Rome and Giulio Piovaccari in Milan; writing by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Alessandro Parodi and Keith Weir)