Italy's Unione Nazionale Aziende Construction Equipment & Attachments (UNACEA).

Italy's Unione Nazionale Aziende Construction Equipment & Attachments (UNACEA).

Italian construction equipment association UNACEA has branded the market in Italy "critical" after sales fell -8,9% in 2010, marking the third consecutive year of shrinking sales.

UNACEA reported that figures continued to decline during the fourth quarter of 2010 for sales of earthmoving equipment, road machines, truck mixers and concrete batching plants.

Sales of mini excavators - the largest equipment market by volume in Italy - fell -5,8% year-on-year to 6286 units. Other big fallers included rigid backhoe loaders, where sales dropped -87,5% year-on-year to just 10 machines, and crawler excavators, where sales dropped -12,3% to 2190 units.

In addition, sales of skid-steer loaders fell -8,3% to 602, while only 93 road finishing machines were sold in Italy last year, a -27,9% drop year-on-year.

These declines were offset by sales of truck mixer-pumps, which increased +15,7%, although an exact figure of machines sold was not provided. The only other areas of growth were sales of dozers (81 units sold, a +28,6% increase), wheeled excavators (266 units sold, a +12,7% increase), motorgraders (28 units sold, a +133,3% increase) and backhoe loaders (166 units sold, a +7,1% increase).

UNACEA president Enrico Santini called for a system of incentives to be introduced in order to halt the decline.

"Now it's time to get out of this emergency situation and to devise a stable system of incentives for innovation in building sites which should reward the companies which invest in new equipment by giving them extra points in tenders," Mr Santini said.

Although sales volumes have halved since their peak in 2007, UNACEA calculated that the true fall for 2010 could be nearer to -2% when readjusted for the absence of some firms which had taken part in the 2009 survey, although no figures are available as yet to support this.

UNACEA said the "crisis" was being exacerbated by the influx of non-EU compliant machines to the market. The trade body called for a compulsory registry of all construction machines put on the market in order to aid competition and go some way towards helping complaint equipment manufacturers' realise their investments in meeting lower emissions standards.

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