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Half of new cars are too big, says think tank

Research says that cars are getting 1cm wider every two years

Embargoed until 0001 Thursday 30 May File photo dated 16/01/16 of cars parked on a residential street in London. National guidelines for sharing parking data will make it easier for drivers to find a space, the Department for Transport (DfT) has claimed.
Parking woes to be ended by data project Embargoed until 0001 Thursday 30 May File photo dated 16/01/16 of cars parked on a residential street in London. National guidelines for sharing parking data will make it easier for drivers to find a space, the Department for Transport (DfT) has claimed. (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Around half of all new cars are too wide for a typical parking space, according to a new study, as calls are made to reverse the trend of SUVs and larger vehicles.

According to the campaign group Transport & Environment, the average new car gets 1cm wider every two years, with the typical width of a car now 180.3cm according to its research, which is up from 177.8cm in 2018.

The group claims that among the 100 most popular cars in Europe, 52 are too wide for a typical on-street parking space of 180cm in major cities such as London, Paris and Rome. It also claims that the growing number of large SUVs ‘leave too little space for car occupants to get in and out of vehicles’ in off-street parking spaces.

James Nix, vehicles policy manager at Transport & Environment, 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.

Larger SUVs are said to be too big for normal car parking spaces.
Coronavirus – Fri Dec 24, 2021 Larger SUVs are said to be too big for normal car parking spaces. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“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.”

The research is announced as Paris gets set to vote on increasing parking charges for larger and heavier cars – primarily SUVs. The referendum is taking place on February 4 to triple the price of parking for these larger vehicles, though would not apply to Parisian residents, rather to those visiting the area.

While SUVs continue to grow in popularity, vehicles of this type have also been targeted by climate activists in the UK. Known as the Tyre Extinguishers, the group has deflated large numbers of SUV tyres in London and Edinburgh. It also targeted a Land Rover dealership in Exeter last August following the death of two children in Wimbledon last year after a Land Rover crashed through a fence and into school grounds.