Home MarketsEurope & Middle East Paris has increased parking fees for sport utility vehicles. Now cities like London are taking note

Paris has increased parking fees for sport utility vehicles. Now cities like London are taking note

by SuperiorInvest

A view of vehicles parked on the street in Paris, France, on November 22, 2023.

Anadolu | Anadolu | fake images

Parisians have voted to increase parking fees for large SUVs, and it is not the only European city setting its sights on heavier, more polluting cars.

In a referendum held in Paris last month, almost 55% voted in favor of a specific sports utility vehicle (SUV) parking fee for non-residents. However, with a participation rate of 5.7%, the elections represented only a small proportion of the capital's electoral list.

The measure will see drivers pay up to 18 euros ($19.54) per hour to park in central Paris and 12 euros per hour in the rest of the city. The higher charges will apply to SUVs weighing more than 1.6 metric tons that are hybrids or have a combustion engine, as well as electric SUVs weighing more than 2 metric tons.

According to Jens Müller, deputy director and head of policy and research at the Clean Cities campaign group, “what happens in Paris usually does not stay in Paris.”

He told CNBC there's a good chance other cities will follow suit, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo agrees, saying after the vote: “Parisians have made a clear decision… other cities will follow.” .

Increase in SUV sales

It comes as SUV sales continue to rise, with the International Energy Agency noting that “the shift towards heavier, less fuel-efficient conventional vehicles increases growth in both oil demand and emissions.” CO”.2 “Global carbon emissions from vehicles approached 1 billion tonnes in 2022, according to the IEA.

SUVs remain popular due to their extra seating, storage space and higher driver's position. Meanwhile, Edmund King, president of the UK's AA, told the Times there were “valid safety reasons why cars have gotten bigger.”

“Vehicle safety has improved substantially and this is largely due to Euro NCAP, [a safety standard] “This means that modern vehicles have crumple zones, pedestrian protection and numerous airbags, which increases their size,” he said.

However, data indicates that many of these larger cars are registered to homes in urban areas, creating a problem in already populated cities. An analysis of UK new car registrations by campaign group Badvertising in 2021 showed that three quarters of SUVs sold in 2019-20 were registered at urban addresses.

And cities across Europe are starting to take notice.

The Paris vote followed in the footsteps of the French city of Lyon, which already announced a similar policy. Its plans to introduce higher parking charges for heavier vehicles, which will come into effect next June.

Meanwhile, the French city of Grenoble has already implemented a higher environmental fee on parking lots for heavier vehicles, and a spokesperson for the Bordeaux mayor's office told CNBC that the city and the mayor are “in the reflection stage on the issue of taxes on SUVs”. “

In Germany, the southern city of Tübingen increased the cost of the annual resident parking permit six-fold to €180 for combustion engine vehicles weighing more than 1.8 tonnes. While Hannover Mayor Belit Onay told CNBC after the vote in Paris that her city “will also have to face the question of how we deal with vehicles that take up more space.”

It's a nod to the fact that pollution isn't the only potential problem with SUVs, as space and safety are also concerns. The Transport and Environment campaign group, which runs the Clean Cities Campaign, has found that new cars in Europe are widening by 1cm on average every two years. The group claimed that large luxury SUVs, with a width of around 200cm, now leave too little space for people to get in and out of other vehicles in typical off-street parking spaces.

Meanwhile, a study by Belgium's Vias Institute, published in August, concluded that the risk of fatal injuries increases by 30% if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car with a hood 10cm higher than average.

'Looking with emotion'

Before the Paris referendum, London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested he would monitor the effectiveness of the policies. However, a spokesperson for Khan said via email that the mayor does not have the power to introduce an off-road vehicle parking fee, nor does he have any plans to do so.

Moves in continental Europe could be of particular interest to the UK, with Transport & Environment noting that the country taxes petrol SUVs at a much lower rate than other countries in Europe. The campaign group said this could turn the UK into a “tax haven” for these larger, more polluting cars.

It comes as UK SUV sales continue to rise, rising by more than a fifth between 2022 and 2023, according to T&E research, with SUVs accounting for 60% of all new car registrations last year. The group warned this could “pour a hole” in the UK's carbon targets, given the majority are petrol and diesel, hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Rezina Chowdhury, deputy leader of London's Lambeth council, told CNBC she had been “watching keenly what happened in Paris”.

He explained that London's Lambeth Council had introduced emissions-based charging last year and that the next step would be to look at size-based charges. “It just feels wrong that in a city you have these huge vehicles,” Chowdhury said.

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