PARIS — Paris aims to drive large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) out of its center by hiking parking fees for heavy cars in the French capital, and it plans a citizens’ vote on the proposal early next year.
After banning rental scooters in September in the wake of a citizen’s vote, Paris will hold a local referendum on Feb. 4 about “the place of SUVs in the capital.”
Since SUVs can be hard to distinguish from other models, City Hall wants to introduce higher parking fees for thermal engine cars weighing over 1.6 tonnes (3,527 pounds) and for electric vehicles over two tonnes (4,409 pounds). To determine a car’s weight, scanners will read its license plate, which links to its model and weight.
“We need to reduce the number and the size of cars in the city, that is why we will submit to a vote the question of how much space there should be for this type of vehicle in Paris,” Deputy Mayor David Belliard, an ecologist, told Reuters.
Under Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Paris has for years raised pressure on drivers by increasing parking costs and gradually banning diesel vehicles, while boosting the bicycle lane network in the congested capital.
“(The SUV vote) is to tell all those who continue to use their private cars because they’re the richest: No! In a few years, in a few months, they won’t be welcome in Paris with this type of behavior,” Belliard said.
He said Paris also wanted car manufacturers to stop building this type of vehicle because they were too expensive, too polluting and unsuitable for cramped city centers.
Car drivers’ association president Philippe Noziere said that if cars were heavier and bulkier than before, it is for reasons of safety and comfort.
“Manufacturers have made huge efforts with these vehicles. Of course, this has translated into extra weight,” he said.
Paris resident Henri Duret had little sympathy for SUVs.
“They are a symbol of another era … a symbol of crushing others. Because it’s a heavier car, it consumes more fuel and therefore pollutes more. So I think it’s normal to tax them more,” he said.