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Are new cars too wide?

23 January 2024

The trend in new cars increasing in size is set to continue, according to new research from Transport and Environment (T&E). New cars, on average, are getting 1 cm wider every two years in Europe, due to the rising sales of SUVs.

The environmental lobby group’s report -  Ever-wider: why large SUVs don’t fit , and what to do about it - suggests that 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 in the EU now exceeds 180 cm, and around half of sales now exceed this figure. 180 cm is a key threshold because it is a frequently-used minimum specification for the width of on-street parking in Europe. When parked in spaces 180 cm wide, vehicles exceeding this width simply don’t fit. Vehicles which exceed their parking bay take space from those using the footpath, from vehicles moving along the road, or from both the footpath and the road.

The wider designs have also enabled the height of vehicles to be further raised, despite crash data showing a 10cm increase in the height of vehicle fronts carries a 30% higher risk of fatalities in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. 

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