Parisians vote to triple parking fees for visitors in SUVs

The city’s mayor called the result ‘a clear choice from Parisians’ to fight pollution and improve road safety - but less than 6% of eligible people voted

Parisians vote to triple parking fees for visitors in SUVs
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called the vote a “clear choice from Parisians [in favour of] a measure that is good for our health and good for the planet
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[Update, February 6, 2024: Contrary to previous reports that the charges would only apply to visitors, it has now been confirmed that the parking charges will also apply to Paris residents if the measure is voted through by the Conseil de Paris.]

Visitors to Paris driving SUVs will soon need to pay parking fees three times’ higher than drivers in smaller vehicles, after a majority (54.55%) voted in favour of the measure on February 4.

Parisians were invited to the polls over the weekend to state if they were in favour or not of the “creation of a specific tariff for the parking of private vehicles that are heavy, bulky, and polluting”, meaning SUVs.

Read previously: Paris to hold vote on whether SUVs should pay more for parking

But despite the vote in favour, the rules will not change overnight. The decision will now be presented to the Conseil de Paris in May for a potential adoption from September 1 this autumn.

The vehicles in the firing line are those characterised as SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and 4x4s. They are typically characterised as weighing more than 1.6 tonnes (or two tonnes for electric vehicles).

Under the new rules, visitor vehicles that fit into this category - whether combustion, electric, or hybrid - will have to pay €18 per hour in the central arrondissements, and €12 for the surrounding arrondissements.

The parking fees will not apply to Paris residents, nor shopkeepers or other central workers, taxi drivers in dedicated taxi ranks, health professionals, or disabled people. [Update, February 6, 2024: It has since been confirmed that the fees will apply to Paris residents if they park anywhere other than their dedicated 'residential' car parking space outside their home.]

The Paris Mairie has said that the fees will apply to “around 10% of vehicles” in Paris, and could bring in an extra €35 million to the city’s coffers.

‘A clear choice’?

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has long campaigned for measures against polluting vehicles, announced the results of the poll at the Hôtel de Ville, and called it a “clear choice from Parisians [in favour of] a measure that is good for our health and good for the planet”.

She has said that the measure is part of her fight against pollution, and a way to improve road safety and better share the public space. She has said that accidents involving SUVs are “twice as likely to be fatal for pedestrians than [in accidents] with standard cars”.

However, relatively few people turned up to vote.

Of the 1.3 million people who were eligible to vote, just 78,000 showed up at the 38 polling station locations, equating to 5.68% of the eligible electorate.

This is not the first time that Ms Hidalgo has hailed a vote with relatively few participants as a successful mandate. In April 2023, she banned to-hire electric scooters from Paris after 103,000 people (7.46% of the eligible electorate) took part in a vote on the issue.

‘General indifference’ and criticism

Opposition parties said that the vote result showed the “general indifference” of Parisians on the question.

In a statement, right wing opponents said: “This very low turnout, combined with the close results on a measure that Anne Hidalgo and her team claim to be emblematic [of her administration], is a real setback for the Mayor of Paris.”

The vote was broadly split along political lines; residents in right-wing arrondissements tended to vote against, while those in left-leaning areas tended to vote in favour of the measure.

Predictably, motoring associations have criticised the vote.

Yves Carra, spokesperson for Mobilité Club France, has said that the term ‘SUV’ is “a marketing name that means nothing”, and said that focusing on SUVs is “manipulation” by the mairie to hide the fact that “in reality, any type of vehicle is likely to be affected by the standards put to the vote”.

Drivers’ group 40 Millions d’automobilistes said that targeting new SUVs was a distraction. They said: “A new, modern SUV... does not pollute more, or even pollutes less, than a small diesel vehicle built before 2011.”

In an interview with broadcaster RTL, Environment Minister Christophe Béchu said that while he believes that drivers “should opt for lighter vehicles”, the measure could be seen as “a kind of punitive environmentalism”.

Other cities

Paris is not the only city in France to adapt parking fees to SUVs. Lyon has adopted a similar plan - which is set to come into force before this summer - and is set to charge for parking based on vehicle weight, and driver income.

Read more: Lyon to base parking fees on weight of car and driver income

The changes appear to dovetail with the conclusions from the 2019 Citizens’ Climate Convention (la Convention citoyenne pour le climat).

It said that “heavier vehicles have a much greater impact on the climate…they consume more fuel, require more materials to build, and, in the case of electric vehicles, need much larger batteries”.

It also said that “the accidents they cause are more serious (particularly for tall vehicles such as SUVs, whose bumpers are at the same height as pedestrians' vital organs), braking emits more fine particles, and they take up more public space, to the detriment of other, less polluting modes of transport”.

The idea could yet spread further.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has praised France’s ideas to charge more for SUVs as “innovative”. He told The Guardian on February 2: “We always examine policies around the globe. I'm a firm believer in stealing good policies.

“Rather than inventing [new policies] badly, if other cities are doing stuff that works, we will copy them.”

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