Italy to auction ministers' flashy cars on eBay
They are one of the most hated symbols of Italy's political class – sleek, expensive executive cars in which ministers and officials are chauffeured around in comfort while the rest of the country endures the worst recession for decades.
Now, in a cost-cutting exercise that has been welcomed by most ordinary Italians, the government of Matteo Renzi, Italy's new prime minister, has announced it is cutting the fleet by putting up for sale a batch of Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, Lancias and other vehicles on eBay.
The government has set up a special section on the internet auction site, where prospective buyers can look at the 151 cars on offer.
The vehicles, many of which cost €72,000 or more when new, were previously owned by the interior, justice and defence ministries, as well as a handful from other departments. In addition to Italian-made cars, there are BMWs, Jaguars, Subarus, Audis and Citroens.
The ministry of defence appears to have had the pick of the top-of-the-range cars – it is selling a Maserati V8 and eight Maserati M139MSs.
Italians have rushed to buy the used cars, despite many of them having nearly 125,000 miles on the clock – by yesterday there had been nearly 90 offers for an Alfa 166 and 75 offers for a BMW 525D. The auction of the cars – which closes on April 16 – was "particularly significant because of the change it represents in the relationship between government and citizens", the government said.
The decision to sell them online was an attempt to ensure maximum transparency, it added.
While the state will reap a modest dividend from the sale of the cars, the real saving will come in having them off the books.
It is estimated that the cost of keeping one of them on the road, including petrol, a driver, tax and insurance, is €70,000 a year. (© Daily Telegraph, London)