Cars are getting 1 cm wider every two years – research

(Transport and Environment, 22 Jan 2024) Over half of new vehicles are too wide for many on-street parking spaces. Paris will vote on tripling parking fees for SUVs on 4 February.

New cars in Europe are getting 1 cm wider every two years, on average. That’s according to research by Transport & Environment (T&E) which says the trend will continue due to the rising sales of SUVs – unless lawmakers take action. Around half of new cars sold are already too wide for the minimum on-street parking space in many countries. Paris could be the first major European capital to tackle this trend if citizens endorse higher parking charges for SUVs in a referendum next month.

The average width of new cars expanded to 180.3 cm in the first half of 2023, up from 177.8 cm in 2018, the T&E research finds.[1] Data compiled by the ICCT confirms the same trend in the two decades up to 2020.[2] New cars in the EU are subject to the same maximum width, 255 cm, as buses and trucks. T&E said that unless the EU width limit for cars is reviewed and cities impose higher parking charges, large SUVs and pick-ups will continue to expand to the cap meant for trucks.

James Nix, Vehicles Policy Manager at T&E, said: “Cars have been getting wider for decades and that trend will continue until we set a stricter limit. Currently the law allows new cars to be as wide as trucks. The result has been big SUVs and American style pick-up trucks parking on our footpaths and endangering pedestrians, cyclists and everyone else on the road.”

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Transport and Environment, 22 Jan 2024: Cars are getting 1 cm wider every two years – research