Brussels: Drivers in Italy will be offered cash to swap their gas-guzzling automobiles for non-polluting electric vehicles.

The 930-million-euro ($1-billion) government program will be launched later this year, with drivers also set to be encouraged to choose an Italian-made electric vehicle.

The initiative will see low-income families offered up to 13,750 euros to trade a 20-year-old car for an electric vehicle, according to the Financial Times newspaper, which said it had seen a concept note drafted by the Italian government on the draft initiative. Incentives will vary, according to the age of the vehicle being ditched, the financial situation of the driver, and the type of electric vehicle being purchased.

The Bloomberg news agency said the right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni government will discuss the initiative with vehicle manufacturers on February 1.

The Financial Times said the Italian government came up with idea in a bid to counter the fact that Italy has one of Europe’s smallest populations of electric vehicles and one of its most aged auto fleets.

The government hopes to “stimulate the purchase of cars actually produced in Italy”, the concept note says, and “change Italy’s vehicle fleet, which is one the oldest in Europe”.

An 8.7-billion-euro fund set up by Meloni’s predecessor, Mario Draghi, will be used to fund the initiative. Italy has vowed to use the fund to spend 1 billion euros a year between now and 2030 on ensuring the nation’s auto fleet becomes younger and greener.

Italy currently has an estimated 11 million vehicles that are at or below the Euro 3 standard, which means they were manufactured more than 19 years ago. And drivers in Italy have been unenthusiastic about electric vehicles, with only 3 percent of cars sold there between January and October 2023 being fully electric. The average throughout western Europe during the same period was 16 percent. And in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, sales of electric vehicles during the period increased by 30 percent on the same period a year earlier, while in Italy they only crept up by 1 percent.

Electric vehicle sales in the UK have been so good recently there will likely be 1 million fully electric cars on the nation’s roads at some time this month, PA Media has reported.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, which is a transport policy lobbying group, said hitting the “major milestone” will be good news, but he cautioned that it still only equates to around 3 percent of the UK’s total auto fleet being fully electric.

“At a time when hard-pressed people are acutely aware of the cost of living, the price of buying and running a battery-powered car both have to stack up,” he said.