In an effort to combat pollution and address the growing issue of “auto-obesity”, Paris city hall has approved a measure to increase parking fees for SUV owners from 1 January 2024. The decision, adopted unanimously last month by Paris councillors, aims to tackle the rising number of these vehicles in the city and promote the use of lighter, more environmentally friendly alternatives.
“We would like the city of Paris to change the pricing of paid parking to make it progressive according to the weight and size of vehicles,” explained Frédéric Badina-Serpette, a councillor from the EELV ecology party that proposed the measure. The objective is to address what he referred to as “auto-obesity”, highlighting the concerning trend of vehicles becoming larger and heavier, particularly in urban areas like Paris.
There are no dirt paths, no mountain roads … SUVs are absolutely useless in Paris.David Belliard, Paris deputy mayor responsible for public space and mobility policy
“There are no dirt paths, no mountain roads … SUVs are absolutely useless in Paris,” said David Belliard, Paris deputy mayor responsible for public space and mobility policy. “This increase needs to be shut down, as SUVs are ill-suited for urban environments. Worse, they are dangerous, cumbersome, and use too many resources to manufacture.” Large 4×4 vehicles are associated with 25% more accidents than any other type of car, according to a study by insurance company Axa.
Over the past 4 years, the number of SUVs has increased by 60% in Paris, according to officials, accounting for 15% of the 1.15 million private vehicles parking in the city. Moreover, the average vehicle weight increased by 62% between 1960 and 2017. By raising parking fees, the city hopes to slow down this growth and encourage the adoption of lighter vehicles that have a smaller environmental footprint.
The details of the new charges have yet to be revealed, but they will be based on the size, weight, and motor of the vehicle. Electric vehicles and cars used by larger families will likely be exempt from the increased fees, which would be a welcome exception, as Pierre Chasseray, spokesperson for the driver defense group 40 millions d’Automobilistes, pointed out that most of the SUvs in Paris are vehicles that families use for comfort and practicality when getting away for the weekend or on holidays.
Air pollution has long been a pressing concern for the French capital, as the city has struggled with high levels of pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide and fine particles. The decision to impose higher parking fees on SUVs is seen as a complementary measure to existing initiatives.
Paris is not the only city taking steps in this direction. Lyon, located in southeastern France, has already announced plans to introduce weight-based parking charges starting next year. Grenoble is also expected to follow suit, implementing a similar scheme.