Parisians have voted to triple the parking costs for SUVs – including heavier electric ones and hybrids. This Sunday, the city held a referendum, with Parisians voting 56.6% in favor of increased parking fees for SUVs and heavy sedans, of all varieties.
While the narrow, traffic-clogged streets of Paris seem a better fit for the likes of the nimble Twingo, city officials say that the number of SUVs in the city has increased by 60% over the last four years. SUVs account for 15% of the 1.15 million private vehicles parked on Paris streets every night.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo sees the move to curb SUVs and other heavy cars in the city as “a form of social justice,” with road safety and air pollution the main targets of the vote. She said that the vote had one particular driver in mind: rich drivers of the heaviest, most expensive, and polluting cars on the street who, essentially, need to wake up and see how their choices affect the rest of the city – with the caveat that only out-of-towners will be affected by the price hike. Still, officials say that some 10% of the vehicles parked in Paris will see increased parking fees, which could bring in up to €35 million, reports Le Monde.
“Parisians have made a clear choice… other cities will follow,” Hidalgo added. Lyon, France’s third largest city and run by the Green Party, has devised its own progressive parking fee system designed to target SUVs, with Grenoble looking on. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that he too is paying attention to the Paris vote, The Guardian reports.
The new fees could come into force at the beginning of September, with on-street parking for an SUV raised to €18 (about $19) an hour in the center of Paris and €12 (about $13) in the rest of the city.
Since fee is categorized by weight and not by model, it applies to ICE or hybrid SUVs and sedans weighing more than 1.6 metric tons, and electric SUVs and sedans weighing more than 2 metric tons (about 4,409 pounds). However, Paris residents will not have to pay extra when parking near their homes. Also people working in Paris, taxi drivers, tradespeople, health workers, and people with disabilities will also be exempt.
Some of the electric SUVs that will get slapped with higher fees include the Skoda Enyaq, the Volkswagen ID.4, and the BMW iX. The Tesla Model Y comes in at just under the 2-metric-ton mark, but the Model X exceeds the threshold.
Last year, Paris held a similar referendum that voted to ban electric scooter rental services, the first and only European capital to do so. Of course, the turnout for the vote was only 103,000 people, or 7% of registered voters. The SUV referendum, which was held Sunday, February 4, garnered even fewer votes, with 78,121 people, or 5.7% of registered voters, Le Monde reports. Still, while not many people ventured out on to cast their vote, Le Parisien ran an Opionway poll this month that found 61% of city residents backed the plan to hike frees for SUVs.
The socialist mayor has put front and center a reduction in car usage while simultaneously boosting eco-friendly transport in the city. SUVs – which are taller, heavier, and deadlier and use more energy and resources than a typical sedan – account for almost half of all new passenger cars sold in Europe last year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. A pedestrian is twice as likely to die in a collision with an SUV than a standard vehicle, Hidalgo stated.
She has made big moves in expanding bike lanes by reducing parking spaces. In the past few years since the coronavirus lockdowns, there has been a 71% rise in the use of bikes in the city. Of course, I wished I’d see more helmets on heads here – because even with more bike lanes, Paris traffic is intense, with bikes lane sometimes merging in and out of traffic lanes.
Regardless, Hidalgo is hoping automakers will get the message, that there is no place for huge, bulky, polluting SUVs in a city like Paris. “With this vote, we want to say stop,” she has said. “Stop the excesses of carmakers, who are pushing people to buy ever bigger, more expensive, more raw-material-intensive, more polluting vehicles.”
Author: Jennifer Mossalgue