A drop in Italian construction equipment sales of 22.4% has been reported for the first three months of the year as the crisis in the market shows only limited signs of abating.
Italian construction equipment association Unacea said 1,820 construction machines were sold in its domestic market during the first quarter, of which 1,734 were earthmoving machines (down -22.4% compared to the first quarter of 2011), 40 were road machines (down 11.1% year-on-year) and 46 concrete machines (a 31.3% drop) were sold.
However, the sales data - which came from the Italian Institute for Statistics - did contain some positive news. Exports of Italian construction equipment rose 2% year-on-year during the first quarter, to €121 million.
In particular, there has been an increase in the foreign sales of crushing and screening machinery (+75%), road machinery (+15%) and earthmoving machinery (+11%). Offsetting this, there was a decrease in the exports of tower cranes (-32%), concrete machinery (-21%) and drilling machinery (-15%).
Nevertheless, imports have decreased 22% year-on-year due to the weak internal market, and the first quarter trade surplus totalled €91 million.
Unacea vice president Enrico Prandini reiterated the trade association's call for incentives for contractors to buy new equipment, and for better market surveillance to reduce the number of grey imports.
He said, "In the present situation of crisis, we ask that the companies - which have to invest an enormous amount of money to comply with the European legislation - could benefit at least from a stable system of incentives for innovation in the building site, giving them extra points in tenders which should reward building firms that invest in new equipment, which is safer and more respectful of the environment."
Mr Prandini also called for a stop to the sale of non-compliant machines, and the introduction of adequate market surveillance systems.