Paris wants to punish big SUVs by charging them more for parking

Fresh on the heels of its ban on shared rental e-scooters, Paris is now targeting “auto-besity” by enforcing substantially higher parking fees for SUVs, and that includes large electric and hybrid ones too.

While those narrow traffic-clogged streets of Paris may seem a better fit for the likes of the nimble Twingo or the Dacia Spring, city officials say that its number of SUVs 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.

To help turn this around and give smaller cars a boost, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has set up a referendum for local residents to vote on February 4 on whether or not to heavily increase parking fees for SUVs and 4x4s. This follows her first referendum that pushed out shared rental e-scooters, where only the haters showed up to cast their ballot, and very few of those even bothered to turn out. Still, for the SUV vote, Hidalgo promises that Paris city dwellers won’t be affected and that parking hikes will only apply to suburbanites and out-of-towners driving in for work or play. Considering SUV ownership is low in the city anyway, alongside tensions over traffic from the summer 2024 Olympic Games, predictions say that this will be an easy win.

“Today, many of you are telling me that there are still too many big, polluting cars taking up more and more space on our streets, sidewalks, and even bike paths,” Hidalgo said in a video shared on social media. “We need to curb this phenomenon by limiting the presence of SUVs and 4x4s in Paris.”

So, who will be subject to these vague-yet-menacing “very significant” increases in parking fees? Anyone driving a combustion or plug-in hybrid vehicle weighing 1.6 tons or more and owners of an electric vehicle weighing 2 tons or more. The higher rate, however, won’t apply to residential parking nor to parking for some professionals, emergency services, or disabled drivers. Earlier discussions originally excluded electric SUVs altogether and people with large families, but that seems to no longer be the case.

The socialist mayor has put front and center a reduction in car usage while simultaneously boosting eco-friendly transport in the city. This plan also emulates what is happening in Lyon, which will penalize heavier, more polluting vehicles parking in the city from 2024. 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.

“With this vote, we want to say stop,” she said. “Stop the excesses of carmakers, who are pushing people to buy ever bigger, more expensive, more raw-material-intensive, more polluting vehicles.”

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