MAN Cryo wins approval for ammonia fuel-supply system
TECO 2030 & partners start €13.5M Zero Emission Adriatic Ship project

New cars in Europe are getting 1 cm wider every two years

New cars in Europe are getting 1 cm wider every two years, on average, according to research by environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E). T&E says the trend will continue due to the rising sales of SUVs unless lawmakers take action.

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 expanded to 180.3 cm in the first half of 2023, up from 177.8 cm in 2018, the T&E research finds. Data compiled by the ICCT confirms the same trend in the two decades up to 2020. New cars in the EU are subject to the same maximum width—255 cm—as buses and trucks. T&E said that unless the EU width limit for cars is reviewed and cities impose higher parking charges, large SUVs and pick-ups will continue to expand to the cap meant for trucks.


Among the top 100 models in 2023, 52% of vehicles sold were too wide for the minimum specified on-street parking space (180 cm) in major cities, including London, Paris and Rome, the research also finds. Off-street parking is now a tight squeeze even for the average new car (180 cm wide), while large luxury SUVs no longer fit. Measuring around 200 cm wide, large luxury SUVs leave too little space for car occupants to get in and out of vehicles in typical off-street spaces (240 cm).

The growth in size is very pronounced among large luxury SUVs: in the most egregious cases, the Land Rover Defender grew by 20.6 cm and the Mercedes X5 by 6 cm in just six years. In 2023, Volvo went 4.1 cm wider with its EX90. Carmakers are using this growth of the largest SUVs to also increase the width of vehicles in the midsize and compact segments.

The trend towards wider vehicles is reducing the road space available for other vehicles and cyclists while parked cars are further encroaching on footpaths. The wider designs have also enabled the height of vehicles to be further raised, despite crash data showing a 10 cm increase in the height of vehicle fronts carries a 30% higher risk of fatalities in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.

Several European cities have already introduced more restrictive parking rules for SUVs. The city of Paris is the latest and largest European city to tackle the trend of larger cars and has called citizens to vote on whether parking fees should be tripled for particularly heavy cars.

A recent poll by the Clean Cities Campaign found that around two thirds of Parisians are in favor of higher parking fees for large, heavy and polluting vehicles. If approved, new measures in the French capital would set an important precedent for many other European cities that are considering similar changes.

T&E said EU lawmakers should mandate a review of the maximum width of new cars when they update the legislation in the coming months. Also, city authorities should set parking charges and tolls based on vehicle size and weight, so that large luxury SUVs and pick-ups pay more for using more space.


Roger Brown

This news is discouraging for those people who are hoping that Moore's Law and the information economy are going to spontaneously dematerialize economic output and therefore enable the coexistence of ecological sanity and the consumer economy. Reasonable standards of consumption are the place where the rubber meets the road in any effort to restrain humanity's per capita ecological footprint, and such standards are not going to come into existence purely by magic.


Cars need taxing for road footprint and weight.


Another “T&E study” against people’s individual mobility! And now this T&E nonsense again!!!
SUVs / cars are often taxed at €300-800 per year and that is very expensive - up to €8000 in taxes for 10 years - tractors are tax-free in the EU, but also drive around in cities - 7 tons in weight and more - T&E is silent on how always! The monster SUVs are always businesses that are subsidized by the state - so END to all subsidies for vehicles including tractors, trucks & buses!!!

Trucks weighing over 40 tons only cost €3,000 a year and the huge trailers even have green tax-free license plates in Germany!
But the truck tax is paid back by the state because it's a business!

So what does T&E actually want to report with this nonsense?
Trucks and tractors into the cities and SUVs/cars out so that people can be deported on buses?

It's also bad that comments are written here by people who probably have no idea about the EU right to individual mobility!

Roger Brown

If every European has a right to drive a giant SUV if they have a mind to, then so does every African, every South American, and every Asian. Is seem to me very doubtful that this standard of consumption can be extended to a world of 9 or 10 billion people.



' It's also bad that comments are written here by people who probably have no idea about the EU right to individual mobility!'

What right is that?

Please provide your reference, and why that takes priority over, for instance, getting around town on foot to conveniently located stores, instead of much of the space being given over to cars, and as fat, excessively fast, and unecological as possible.

In every local supermarket large cars are overlapping the spaces provided, so that their often sole occupant can be maximally unecological.


I have a two-door garage where both doors electrically driven and expensive. My wife refuses to drive our car into or out of the garage because in driving mode both mirrors are in the extended position and just barely pass the door frame.
I have absolutely no intention of replacing the garage doors just to satisfy the whims of some nincompoop designer engineers.


Hi yoatman.

Just so.
And what is dumb in the US is flat out insane in Europe.
Here is a typical road close to where I live:

There is badly room for a modest vehicle to pass between the cars.

And that is just the way it should be, with priority to people going on foot, bicycles and buses, not some leary great SUVs, which incredibly people still find objects of desire here.

The comments to this entry are closed.