Data on Italian tractor sales during the first quarter of the year point to a sharp drop in registrations. The only type showing growth is the narrow track specialists for vineyards and orchards facing, however, the application of new European Union regulations on exhaust emissions which carry the risk of choking off also this sector of the market.
The agricultural machinery market collapsed in the first quarter of 2015 with steep declines for tractors, combine harvesters, transporters and trailers. Data elaborated by FederUnacoma based on registrations reported by the Ministry of Transport indicate a 9.4% drop for tractors in the first quarter of the year with 4,180 units sold compared to 4,616 in the same period in 2014, a 12.5% fall for combine harvesters, 28 sold against 32 in 2014, transporters down by 32.7% with 146 compared to 217, and trailers off by 8.8% with 1,816 moved compared to 1,992.
The aggregate of data on conditions in the sector show that tractors closed 2014 down by 4.4%, harvesters off by 26.6%, transporters falling by 3.9% and trailers down 2.5% and that from 2009 to 2014 tractor sales tumbled by 33% in a climate of financial uncertainty which discouraged investments by farming enterprises for new machinery and equipment.
In these years, characterized by the most severe crisis in the entire history of agricultural mechanization, the only type of machine holding out and even capable of growing was the specialized narrow track tractor for vineyards and orchards, machines which reflect the excellence of the Italian industry.
Over the past three years the sales of these specialists moved from 4,763 units in 2012 to 5,277 in 2014 whereas the sales of traditional farm tractors declined from 14,580 units in 2012 to 12,901 last year. This also means that the share of the specialists out of all tractors sold moved up from 25% in 2012 to 29% in 2014. This trend was confirmed in the first quarter of the current year with the increase of the specialists sold climbing from 1,326 units in this period in 2014 to 1,365 taking them to 33% of total tractor sales.
Unfortunately these compact narrow track specialists are the most vulnerable to the new European Union regulations on engines which require substantial modification in the construction of the machines involving exorbitant increases in costs, enough to drive them out of the market. The new machines which would be required to come to the market beginning in 2017 would have sticker prices one-third higher than those now sold to become inaccessible for farming enterprises.
The Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation. FederUnacoma, and federation’s Assotrattori, which represents the tractor sector, are currently stepping up their work in EU quarters aimed at delaying the application of these regulations without which the sole segment showing vitality throughout the depth of the crisis could collapse.