Paris voters agree to triple SUV parking fees

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (C) speaks to journalists at a press conference. A referendum was held in Paris on Sunday on increasing parking fees for heavy city SUVs. (Best quality available) Michael Evers/dpa
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (C) speaks to journalists at a press conference. A referendum was held in Paris on Sunday on increasing parking fees for heavy city SUVs. (Best quality available) Michael Evers/dpa
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Paris residents voted on Sunday to triple parking charges for sports utility vehicles (SUVs) on environmental and safety grounds.

The referendum asked whether fees in public car parks should be tripled for heavy SUVs, raising parking fees for one hour in central Paris to €18 ($19.4) instead of the current €6, and €12 instead of €4 in the suburbs.

The higher fee will apply to combustion and hybrid models weighing 1.6 tons or more and electric models weighing two tons or more.

Around 1.3 million residents of the capital took part in the vote titled "More or less SUV in Paris?"

According to the provisional final results, only just under 6% of those eligible took part in the vote. Around 54.5% voted in favour of increasing parking fees, around 45.5% were against the fees hike.

The city's argument in favour of higher charges for SUVs is that the heavy vehicles cause increased pollution, take up a lot of public space and endanger road safety.

The higher fee for large vehicles would limit the nuisance they cause, the city said.

"This vote should be a message to car manufacturers. Their quest for profit, which consists of deliberately selling ever larger, more fuel-efficient and more expensive vehicles, is jeopardizing ecological change."

In voting on Sunday, residents could ease the burden on public spaces and support a new social model, according to the Paris authorities.

The more expensive fee would apply to tourists and visitors, however, residents, tradespeople and care services could apply for an exemption. The change would not apply to private car parks.

A car association criticized the city council ahead of the vote. The club, 40 millions d'automobilistes, launched a petition against higher parking fees for the vehicles, warning the public, "this fight against SUVs is just a back door to eradicate the car as a whole."

The city's battle with large vehicles began with new transport policies brought in several years ago by socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her climate-conscious city government.

Based on registration data, the revamped charges would apply to almost 900,000 cars in the Île-de-France capital region, around 16% of all the vehicles there, according to calculations by Les Échos business newspaper.

Higher fees for bigger vehicles are also being planned in Lyon, Bordeaux and Grenoble.