Parisians called to vote on SUV parking surcharge

Parisians will be asked to vote Sunday on whether to triple the cost of parking Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in the French capital, a move denounced as manipulative by motorist groups.

Polls opened at 9:00 am and will close at 7:00 pm in 38 voting stations for 1.3 million voters to answer: "For or against creating a special tariff for parking passenger cars that are heavy, bulky and polluting."

Under the plan, internal combustion or hybrid vehicles weighing over 1.6 tonnes and two tonnes for EVs, would be charged €18 an hour to park in the city centre, and 12 euros in the outer districts.

Parisians with resident parking permits, taxis, tradespeople, health workers and the disabled would be exempt from the charge.

Paris has already pedestrianised roads along the River Seine, banned private cars from the central Rue de Rivoli, built bike lanes across the city, and closed off several local streets.

Justifying the latest proposed measure, Paris's socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo said in December: "The bigger they are, the more they pollute."

Hidalgo also argued that SUVs monopolise space: city officials said the size of the average car had grown by 250 kilogrammes since 1990.

'Pushing too hard'

Drivers' groups have attacked the scheme. SUV is "a marketing term" that "means nothing", said Yves Carra of Mobilite Club France.

And while compact SUVs would not be covered by the measures, they would hit family-sized coupes and estate cars, he argued.

"You're pushing too hard, something's going to give, something's going to break," he added.

(With newswires)

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