SUV drivers set to pay much more to park in Paris

The Mairie is set to vote on the issue next month, following similar rules in Lyon and Bordeaux

A view of a Range Rover looming large in Paris
Paris could soon follow Lyon and Bordeaux in imposing higher parking charges on larger SUVs and 4x4s
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A majority of Paris residents support making it more expensive to park SUVs in the centre, a new poll has found, ahead of the capital’s vote on whether to introduce such a system.

The poll by OpinionWay, for the Respire association (an anti-air pollution charity), found that 61% of Parisians are in favour of making the largest 4x4s pay more for parking. A similar 55% were in favour of making all SUVs pay more.

SUVs (sport utility vehicles) are becoming increasingly popular family vehicles, but they are unpopular among eco-campaigners, who say they use too much fuel, are too polluting and heavy, are too dangerous for pedestrians and other road users, and take up too much space.

One resident of Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine) said: “If it is because of pollution, that does not really surprise me, and I am in favour. I never take my car into Paris. It is too difficult to drive around, too difficult to find parking, and too expensive even if you can find parking.”

Paris to vote on SUV parking next month

Paris is likely to join Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and Bordeaux (Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) in making SUV and 4x4 drivers pay more to park, and there is a mayoral vote on the issue scheduled for February 4.

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

If the scheme goes ahead, owners of vehicles that weigh more than 1.6 tonnes would be required to pay three times as much to park than owners of smaller vehicles.

“Over the past 20 years, the average weight of vehicles has increased by 200 kg, and we know that the heavier and more bigger they are, the more fuel they use, the more CO2 they emit and the more space they use,” said Christophe Najdovski, Paris deputy mayor. “These vehicles are not suitable for cities.”

Higher sales

Figures from the Agence de l’environnement have shown that CO2 emissions from new cars had been dropping in France for the past 16 years, but since 2017, they have been rising, due to the increased ‘success’ of SUV sales.

Between 2010 and 2022 the sales of new ‘crossover’ vehicles in France soared from 12% to 44%, said Greenpeace, in a report on the vehicles. SUVs are sometimes characterised as ‘crossover’ as they are ‘a bridge’ between regular hatchbacks or saloons, and larger 4x4s. They are typically two-wheel drive, rather than four, however.

The report also found that the climate impact of SUVs “completely cancel out” the climate gains from electric cars.

After its poll, the Respire association has called on vehicle manufacturers to “completely reverse its investment trends, [and invest] in lighter electric vehicles, rather than in SUVs”.

Commenting on Paris’ forthcoming vote, Tony Renucci, executive director at Respire, said: “Putting in place a specific tariff for heavy and polluting cars would be a victory.”

‘Unfair attack by anti-car minorities’

However, drivers’ association 40 Millions d’automobilistes is opposed to the plans, and has launched a petition against what it calls the ‘overtaxation’ of SUVs.

“These vehicles are particularly favoured by families and older people for their safety, their practical nature, and their comfort,” said the association’s director, Pierre Chasseray. “If we do not block these measures, this unfair attack led by ultra-urban, anti-car minorities will spread like gangrene across all the other towns and cities [in France],” he said.

SUVs made up 47% of new car registrations in France in 2022, figures show, ahead of normal hatchback and saloon cars for the first time (which made up 45%).

However, if the plans in Paris go ahead, the price increases would not apply to:

  • SUV drivers when parking in their residential car parking space
  • Taxis in dedicated taxi ranks
  • Professionals - including healthcare workers - who pay the ‘tarif pro
  • Disabled people with an official parking badge
  • Anyone driving a combustion car weighing less than 1.6 tonnes, or an electric car less than two tonnes.

Other city plans

Lyon is already set to introduce higher tariffs for heavier vehicles (those over 1.5 tonnes) from June this year. Bordeaux is also set to follow suit.

Lyon deputy mayor, Valentin Lugenstrass, has deplored the rising popularity of SUVs.

He said: “Manufacturers advertise these cars a lot because they make the most margin, and sadly we have seen this transition in the city, away from smaller city cars towards these heavier vehicles, which emit more carbon dioxide and fine particles.”

However, despite its higher tariffs for SUVs, Lyon is set to introduce a ‘family and support’ parking pass - at a lower cost - for lower-income drivers, and large families. This is aiming to ensure that larger families who have no choice but to use larger vehicles are not penalised.

The deputy mayor of Bordeaux in charge of peaceful neighbourhoods, Didier Jeanjean, has said that certain 4x4s are so large that in the narrowest streets in the city, drivers are forced to mount the pavements.

“In the smallest streets in the town centre, which are very narrow, even [parents with] prams cannot pass through [at the same time as a 4x4],” he said. “Introducing these higher fees is therefore also a way to invite drivers to park in underground car parks, rather than on the roads.”

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