IN DEFENCE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE NEW CHAIRMAN OF ACI, ANGELO STICCHI DAMIANI
ACI continues its battle in defence of an automotive sector that has been hit hard by taxation. Just two examples: between 1990 and 2010, the cost of fuel in Italy has increased by 96.3% and third-party liability insurance by 149.1%...
THE FIGURES SPEAK FOR THEMSELFS: between 1990 and 2010, the cost of fuel in Italy increased by 96.3%; during the same period, third-party liability insurance increased by 149.1% compared with a 72% increase in the consumer price index. But in the past two years the situation has deteriorated considerably: with supplementary road tax, IPT and VAT, in 2011 drivers paid 1.2 billion euros in taxes, a figure that will increase to 2.4 billion in 2012.
Given these figures, it is understandable that the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) has decided to become involved and claim its historic role as the defender of drivers. We began with this data in an interview with the new chairman of ACI, Angelo Sticchi Damiani.
You are giving ACI new visibility that includes a tough battle in defence of an automotive sector that has been hit hard by taxation. How do you intend to react in this field?
This is ACI, so there will be no road blocks, controversies or political apathy: we want tangible solutions. It should not be forgotten that because of the economic and fiscal pressures you mentioned, it is estimated that by the end of the year 10,000 people employed by Italy’s car sector will have lost their jobs, four times more than those who lost everything at Termini Imerese.
Have you carried out any financial analyses of the phenomenon?
Certainly, and we discovered, for example, that this car crisis will lead to a net loss of 8.3 billion euros in the State’s income from VAT. On the other hand, the collapse of Italy’s automobile market is not an issue that involves only car manufacturers: the record downturn in sales during the first quarter is disastrous for all of us. Also because such a negative figure comes after various attempts to shift the target following the stressful “Zero Kilometres” policy – cars bought directly from branches and dealerships – and sizeable discounts and promotions.
The prospects do not appear to be rosy …
Not at all: 2012 should close with sales of about 1,500,000 cars. Half a million cars fewer than the average for the past 4 years. It is obvious that the car system cannot sustain this. And what I mean by the car system is a sector that, including spin-off industries, employs 1,200,000 people, contributes 11.4% to GDP and 16.6% to fiscal revenues. The distribution sector alone employs 165,000 people and represents 6% of Gross Domestic Product.
So the target should be shifted and be less of a burden on the automobile sector?
It has to be understood that targeting cars, taxing cars, puts stress not only on drivers but also on the entire country. This is why we want to draw the Government’s attention to recommendations and a bill that will alleviate the pressure on drivers and, as a consequence, on us all with regard to the cost of insurance. We are perfectly aware that proposing and approving laws are governmental and parliamentary tasks. We have put forward a suggestion that is backed up by the experience ACI has acquired in over a century that has been dedicated also and above all to defending drivers.
What exactly do you suggest with regard to insurance?
We believe that it is particularly urgent to establish that in the same way as injured parties have the right to receive fair compensation, insured parties should also have the right to third-party liability insurance at a cost that is sustainable. It is a paradoxical situation in which the majority of honest drivers are damaged by the fraudulent behaviour of a cynical and protected minority. The various regulations that are now in force with regard to compensation must also be amended to adapt the Italian situation to European standards. We must stop the spiralling price increases that so far have always been translated into increased insurance rates. We must bring third-party liability insurance rates into line with those in France, Spain and Germany.
Going back to the cost of fuel, you programmed a particularly astonishing event, a petrol strike.
ACI wants its voice to be heard. It was when we met with the Government and the demonstration on 6 June gave a clear signal at national level: the first petrol strike, the mobilizing of drivers not to fill up at distributors. We feel that we are being attacked and bled dry, we must put out signals. ACI does it after its own fashion, a civilized way of saying no to increases. We defend an automobile sector that is heading for a crisis.
What is expected from the Government?
That it changes its policy: in order to save Italy’s image abroad it is applying a very risky policy. We have never seen such staggering increases in petrol prices, 20% in a year, and they are hurting the entire sector. We are seeing a serious crisis in high-powered cars, Italian-made vehicles are being sold at give-away prices abroad with the risk of taking the industry to the verge of collapse. Penalizing luxury models has a negative effect also on companies like Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini that are the pride of our industry and a testimony to Italy’s greatness. The entire automobile sector is suffering too much. The figures are alarming: about 1 million vehicles were registered last year compared with over 2 million the previous year. Racetracks are also emptying. An entire economy-driving sector is in danger of being destroyed together with jobs.
ACI has always been distinguished for its actions in favour of road safety. Do you intend to continue along this path during your term in office?
Safety will continue to be a priority for the Automobile Club d’Italia. We are a partner of the international crash-test program, Euro NCAP, but there are numerous other safety-oriented activities that the Club, which represents the interests of over 1 million Italian drivers, will continue to implement.
• The new chairman of ACI
Angelo Sticchi Damiani (66) hails from Lecce. He is married with two children and is a highway engineer. In the 1970s he was a rally driver and has been a member of the Italian Motorsports Committee (CSAI) since 1975. From 1984 to 2000 he was director of international rallies. Since 1973 he has organized the Rally del Salento, a classic in the Italian Rally Championship, valid for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) European Rallies Cup with a coefficient of 10. Since 1993 he has been the vice chairman of CSAI and also chairman of its "Rallies" and "Circuits and Safety" subcommittees. He has been the chairman of the Automobile Club Lecce since 1990. In 1994 he became a member of the Automobile Club d'Italia’s executive committee. He is the chairman of ACI Consult SpA. Passionate about classic cars, he took part in three editions of the “Mille Miglia Storica" (1997-1999) and has a collection of classic cars. He was chairman of the Organization Committee for the "Rally d'Italia Sardegna", valid for FIA World Championship Rallies. Since 1998 he has been a member of the FIA Circuit Committee. In 2009 he was elected chairman of the Automobile Club d'Italia’s Italian Motorsports Committee. In 2011 he was appointed vice chairman of ACI and is now its chairman.