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French city to bring in parking charges based on car weight

The Local France
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French city to bring in parking charges based on car weight
Parking spaces in Lyon. (Photo by JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP)

France already has a one-off purchase tax that means buyers of bigger vehicles - such as SUVs - have to pay more, but now one city is planning to introduce a sliding scale of parking fees based on vehicle weight.

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Residents in the south-eastern French city of Lyon will soon face steeper parking prices if they own a heavier car as it steps up an environmental battle against gas-guzzling SUVs.

Visitors to the city, meanwhile, will be charged for parking based on a sliding scale based on the size of their vehicle.

“For the user, nothing changes. There will be a system that will query a database to retrieve the weight of his vehicle, and therefore get the right pricing grid,” Valentin Lungenstress, deputy mayor of Lyon, told Le Parisien

Other cities in France are watching the policy roll-out in Lyon closely - elected officials in Paris and Grenoble have already suggested similar weight-based parking charges as a means to encourage road users into smaller vehicles, or to use public transport.

A version is being rolled out in the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough in Montreal, Canada.

Currently, Lyon residents pay €20 per month for an on-street parking permit. But the council has decided that, from next year, residential rates will range from €15 to €45, based on the weight of their vehicle.

Under the new rules, owners of an internal combustion car that weighs less than one tonne, or an electric car weighing less than 2.2 tonnes, will pay €15; for an internal combustion car weighing more than 1.725 tonnes, a plug-in hybrid weighing more than 1.9 tonnes or an electric car weighing more than 2.2 tonnes the price will be €45. 

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For vehicles in the middle range for weight, the monthly price for permits will be €30.

Sports Utility Vehicles - known as SUVs or 4x4x - account for 45 percent of global car sales. But they are also more polluting than smaller vehicles.

The French government had already introduced a purchase tax on new heavier, more polluting cars, amounting to a €10 payment per kilogramme above 1.8 tonnes.

READ ALSO: France tightens grip on polluting cars by ramping up eco taxes

But will it be necessary to go beyond that? Environmentalist elected officials in the greater Paris Île-de-France region have called for SUV owners to pay a contribution to finance public transport.

Laurent Castaignède - author of "Airvore or the myth of clean transport" - advocates other solutions: "Beyond the tax issue, we can imagine that the heaviest vehicles be limited to 90 km/h or that parking spaces be created only for the smallest cars.

SUvs represent 39 percent of car purchases in France, compared to 72 percent in the USA. 

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