Italy talks to Tesla, Chinese carmakers in search for second auto producer

Italy talks to Tesla, Chinese carmakers in search for second auto producer

Reuters — 2024-02-28

Automotive Industry

Italy has been in talks with Tesla and three Chinese carmakers as it tries to attract another manufacturer and reach an annual output target of 1.3 m vehicles, the industry minister said on Wednesday 28 February 2024.

"We're having positive feedback," Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said about the talks during a parliamentary hearing.

Stellantis, whose brands include Fiat and Alfa Romeo, is Italy's sole major automaker and produced around 750,000 vehicles in the country last year -- 520,000 passenger cars and 230,000 vans.

Urso said Rome had been in touch "for months" with Tesla, adding that the US electric vehicle maker would have to review its plans for Europe.

The government was also holding talks with three leading Chinese automakers, whose representatives visited Italy last year to assess potential investment opportunities.

Tesla founder Elon Musk was in Rome in December 2023 when he spoke at a political gathering organised by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party.

The minister said Italy needed to produce at least 1.3m vehicles a year -- one million passenger cars and 300,000 vans -- to preserve its national auto industry amid challenges posed by the transition to electric mobility.

"We are aware that it is impossible for Stellantis alone to reach the target of one million cars produced in Italy," he said.

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

Bloomberg News this week of February 2024 quoted Michael Shu, the managing director for Europe of BYD as saying Rome had 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.