For the first time since the end of the Second World War the number of bicycles sold in Italy has overtaken the number of cars. In a radical departure for the car-mad country, home to legendary marques such as Fiat, Ferrari and Lamborghini, 1,750,000 bikes were bought in 2011 compared to 1,748,000 motor vehicles. As austerity cuts deepen and petrol prices hit a new high, the purchase of new cars has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s.
Families are buying bikes, ditching their second cars and signing up to car pool schemes – a major shift for a nation which has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world, with around 60 cars for every 100 people. As bike sales boom, the car industry is going through its worst crisis for decades – new car sales in August were down 20pc on the year before.
Sergio Marchionne, the head of Fiat, said last month that “anyone operating in the automotive sector in Europe today is experiencing varying degrees of unhappiness. The European car market is a disaster”. Italians are not just cutting down on their beloved cars – they are also spending less on food and groceries. Six out of ten Italian families have cut their expenditure on food, including staples such as olive oil and milk, according to a study by Coldiretti, the country’s main agricultural association.
News source: Telegraph