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Paris cracks down on off-road vehicles

Paris cracks down on off-road vehicles

The city of Paris is planning to hold a referendum on raising SUV parking fees. Even those directly affected are not allowed to vote.

Stephane Brandel, Paris/Media

Sometimes you can’t get anywhere even with a 4×4…Image: Cornerstone

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants cars to be extra wide, if not at the collar, then at least across the collar: SUVs, off-road vehicles and similar vehicles must pay higher parking fees in the French capital. The decision will be made in an unusual way: a referendum will be held on February 4th on the controversial proposal.

In April, Hidalgo’s Social Democratic Party actually banned the rental of electric scooters in a vote. 89% of eligible Parisians were in favor of the ban – with very low voter turnout.

SUVs are no longer just a niche issue in Paris: according to the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (Acea), nearly half of all vehicles sold in 2022 were taller and heavier than a classic sedan.

“With this vote we say to the car manufacturers: Stop!” Hidalgo explained. Because private vehicles are becoming “increasingly heavier, more expensive, more resource-hungry, and more polluting.” Therefore, drivers of these off-road vehicles will have to pay higher parking fees in the future.

It is not yet known how high it should be; According to Hidalgo, the increase should be “very significant.” If the referendum is positive, the red-green coalition in the Paris City Council could set the tariffs. This will affect cars weighing more than 1.6 tons if equipped with a combustion or hybrid engine, or more than 2 tons in the case of an electric car.

Visitors gather around the Renault 4Ever Trophy electric SUV at the Paris Motor Show on Monday, October 10.  February 17, 2022 in Paris.  Europe is at the forefront of the trend towards electric cars as battery-powered cars...

Renault is planning to launch an electric SUV.Image: Cornerstone

Because of electoral tactics?

There is a lot to talk about with one caveat: almost only vehicles coming from the suburbs will be affected – where Hidalgo’s experience is insufficient and where there are no sounds. On the other hand, Paris residents’ vehicles are exempt from high parking fees if they have a neighborhood parking permit – mandatory. The right therefore accuses Hidalgo of thinking only about her voters.

Traffic planners identify two ways to reduce the abundance of SUVs. The first is an increase in parking fees, which Paris is now putting to a vote and which other French cities such as Lyon want to impose at the beginning of the year. The referendum on this matter is seen as a political signal.

The approach taken by cities like Bern or Geneva is more neutral: there, the parking lots have significantly expanded parking spaces by one floor each and increased tariffs by 25 percent. According to a study by the CAR Institute at the University of Duisburg, the average car width has risen from 1.68 to 1.80 since the end of the last century.

The accusation made by the right-wing opposition in Paris against Hidalgo that they are trying to divert attention from the “Tahiti issue” with the stunning anti-SUV action is also very political. In October, the mayor completed a trip to the South Seas to visit a surf facility there ahead of the Paris Olympics. But the appointment was then cancelled. In fact, the three-week trip was for private purposes only. (

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