Sales of construction equipment in Italy have fallen for the fifth consecutive year, with 2012 figures revealing a drop of more than 30% over 2011.

During 2012, the total number of units sold was 7,606, which was 31.3% fewer when compared to 2011. The number of earthmoving machines in that figure was 7,245 (-31.1%), while 153 road machines (-34.3%) and 208 concrete machines (-37.3%) were sold.

According to the Construction Equipment Outlook produced by Italian trade organisation Unacea and the research institute Prometeia, investments in the construction sector in Italy decreased by 6.9% in 2012 and will keep on dropping by 2.6%. They said this would, therefore, push back a recovery until 2014, when there would be an expected increase by 1.3%.

The survey said, however, that public works, which had been contracting for the past nine years, were expected to remain unchanged even in 2014.

This, according to the survey, was apparently a result of public administration budget plans particularly affecting the resources available for local institutions in the field of infrastructure.

Looking to the future, the survey added that any potential that was connected with urban requalification within the so-called City Plan (Piano Città) seemed to be affected by the lack of financial resources at the public level and, consequently, by the need to attract adequate private investment to start work on approved projects.

“Therefore,” it said, “it seems that the opening of new construction sites will take a long time to be achieved.”

Unacea said this was the case, at least, in a situation marked by a lack of strong growth-oriented measures, which it did not feel was changing.

Giampiero Biglia, vice president of Unacea, said, “All lines of earthmoving machines experienced a substantially negative trend on the Italian market, thus achieving the lowest result since the beginning of statistical reports in that sector.”

He added that the number of machines sold last year was less than in 1984, when only 7,524 units were put on the market “as a result of the effects of the second oil shock, and when the average cost per machine was definitely higher than nowadays”.

He said, “Italian manufacturers are investing all their energies in internationalisation in order to compensate as much as possible for the losses scored on the domestic market.

“But on this ground, they are engaged in an unfavourable challenge against the companies of other European and non-European countries, which can benefit from support to exports, which do not exist in our sector in Italy.”

Davide Cipolla, the Unacea councillor dealing with concrete machinery, said the Italian market for that sector had never been so negative.

He said, “Sales of truck mixers dropped by over 50%, whereas for truck-mounted pumps the drop is even higher. Only truck mixer-pumps are now increasing.

“Batching plant sales, instead, remain unchanged compared to last year. However, despite the association's efforts to promote the use of mixers, there is an increase in the so-called dry plants, which shows the need to keep promoting the issues of quality and innovation among operators,” said Mr Cipolla.

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