MILAN Dec 16 Three of Italy's biggest
companies, including oil major Eni and Fiat,
launched a car-sharing initiative on Monday that the carmaker
said could help to pull in new customers.
The two companies, together with the Italian railways, said
that a fleet of 650 red Fiat 500 cars would be available to
users in Milan next month in a project dubbed "Enjoy".
Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat's head for the Europe, Middle East
and Africa region, said he did not expect the scheme to hit its
sales in Italy, but that he views it as a way of attracting
"This initiative gives clients the chance to do a real bit
of test driving for as long as they want," he said. "If they
then decide to buy one of our cars, they will be offered
favourable conditions to do so."
As Europe's economic crisis continues to take its toll on
the car market, some manufacturers consider car-sharing as an
opportunity to introduce vehicles to potential future buyers,
such as young drivers.
Car sales in Italy fell 4.5 percent year on year in
November. The last time monthly sales rose year on year in
Europe's fourth-largest car market was August 2011.
Altavilla, however, believes that the worst of the slump is
"I believe the market is slowly stabilising, but a recovery
is a whole different story," he said.
Eni, which expects the scheme to offer it brand enhancement
and support its petrol distribution network, said the Milan
project would be extended to other cities and eventually to
other European countries.
"We're thinking of taking the idea to the cities of Turin
and Rome as well as into Europe, where we have some 2,500 petrol
filling stations," Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni said at a conference.
The scheme, which is expected to break even in 2016, will
provide the biggest car-share fleet in Italy at lower prices
than rival projects, Scaroni said.
In August Daimler, the German parent of
Mercedes-Benz, successfully launched car2go car-sharing in
Italy's financial and fashion capital.
Car-share services in Milan also include GuidaMi, operated by
the city's public transportation company ATM, and e-Vai, run by
regional train group Trenord.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Agnieszka Flak; Editing by