italy microcar
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Italy’s tiny electric vehicles leave a big impression

Zero Emissions Byron comms team member Katrina Shields shared some images of EVs she saw on her recent Italy trip last week - but they're not something you can expect to see here any time soon.

"Just a few of the tiny electric cars for the tiny Italian streets," said Katrina on the Zero Emissions Byron Friends Facebook group.

"Overall the air quality seems good despite lots of motor bikes. Higher fuel standards has many benefits! Having smaller cars makes these cities so much more people friendly rather than car dominated."

In part, smaller cars suit many Italian towns better because of the incredibly narrow streets. But we won't see them anytime soon in Australia because Australian design rules don't allow them.

Europe is already far ahead of Australia in the transition to clean transport. And although Italy's EV market has floundered in recent months, it's good to see compact EV options.

Some of the vehicles Katrina snapped include the Citroen Ami, a pocket-sized two-seater that is essentially a quadricycle, is just 2.4m long, and has a driving range of 70km from its 5.5kWH battery.

Citroen Ami
Citroen Ami. Image: Katrina Shields

Unlike Australia which is only just now considering introducing legislated fuel efficiency standards, Italy introduced a mandatory fuel efficiency (carbon emissions) standard back in 2009 according to the International Energy Agency.

Average CO2 emissions standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles were set at 130 g CO₂/km and 175 g CO₂/km respectively for the period 2015-19. For the period 2020-2024, the emissions standards were set at 95 g CO₂/km for passenger cars and 147 g CO₂/km for light commercial vehicles.

In 2019, Italy also began offering 4,000-6,000 euro rebates for low and zero-emissions vehicles, and taxed big polluters (that emit more than 250g/km CO2).

That said, some of these microcars start from just 5,000 euros and are already very affordable options for European inner city dwellers!

Another EV snapped by Katrina is this little Smart EQ ForTwo city car. Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz-owned Smart stopped production of the EQ ForTwo in April in preparation for the introduction of the Smart #1. With a 16.7kWh battery it offered about 100km in real world range.

smart fortwo
Image: Katrina Shields

Which is a shame: The Smart ForTwo was Italy's fourth most popular EV in the first quarter of 2023 according to Cleantechnica, with the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 claiming #1 and #3 position respectively.

At #2 was the Fiat 500e with 311km range - which we can expect to see in Australia in coming months! It costs a little more than a microcar however - starting from $52,500 before on-road costs.

Katrina also snapped a number of microcars and delivery vehicles that may or may not be powered by battery, but are still super-cute!

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