Paris Considers Ban on SUVs

It’s often referred to as the ‘City of Lights,’ but it seems that France’s capital is taking a somewhat less enlightened approach when it comes to motorists.

Government officials in Paris are proposing a series of regulations that would try to ban, or at least, heavily inconvenience owners of said vehicles and what is termed older, high polluting diesel cars and trucks that enter the city center.

However, actual details of the plan, including the specific types of targeting, the areas and hours of zone enforcement, along with fees and charges, have still yet to be determined.

Given the current high profile the issue of pollution enjoys, relative to perceived environmental concerns, vehicle emissions and cars with large engines or physically larger dimensions have been a frequent political target for law makers in Europe.

However, trying to enforce such laws can prove highly complex, if not impossible, since vehicle usage is generally a more accurate purveyor of true emissions output, rather than the type or size of vehicle.

However, during a broadcast with French Radio Station RTL last year, the deputy mayor of Paris, Denis Beaupain, went as far as stating; “I’m sorry, but in a city, having a sport utility vehicle makes no sense. Sell it and buy a vehicle more compatible with city life.”

Others are taking a more balanced view. Francois Roudier, vice president for communications at the Paris based CCFA (Comite des Constructeurs Francais) said, in reference to banning certain types of vehicles, especially old diesels; categorizing what constitutes such vehicles is “very hard to define.”  M. Roudier also says such programs are inherently politically motivated and often unfair; they simply end up hurting poorer members of society who can’t afford to purchase new cars.

French automakers have stated they are willing to discuss the proposals with lawmakers though admit that at present, specifics are still to vague for serious comment.

Paris currently has some of the worst traffic jams in Europe, with drivers losing up to 70 hours of time a year in gridlock, but in France as a whole, small diesel cars predominate the auto market by a wide margin, whereas genuine SUVs represent a very small fraction of total vehicles sales (largely because of existing tax regulations and high MSRP costs).

Therefore, such a ban as proposed by the city government, even if it does materialize, is likely to have very little effect on reducing pollution.

[Source: The New York Times]