Paris is looking to potentially ban “gas-guzzling” vehicles from city limits. The proposal, still in its infancy, lacks important details but nonetheless appears to be a senseless attack on politically unpopular vehicles that will have an insignificant effect on congestion or the environment. France is known for having high fuel taxes, but an outright ban seems to be unprecedented. This link estimates SUV ownership in France at about 4.5 percent, much lower than the 40 percent (including light trucks) in the United States.
A quote from a Parisian official:
“I’m sorry,” Baupin said on RTL Radio, “but having a sport utility vehicle in a city makes no sense.”
When asked what owners of SUVs should do, he said, “sell it and buy a vehicle that’s compatible with city life.”
Wow. There are a number of reasons one might want to own an SUV and live in a city. Aesthetically, they might be easier on the eyes compared to the smaller, more compact European style vehicles. There is ample evidence that they are much more likely to keep you alive in an accident. There is space to haul things around. If one ever wanted to leave Paris (a complete hypothetical, I’m sure), France as a whole sees a sufficient amount of snow that an SUV would come in handy in the event of a snowstorm.
Changing the rules in the middle of the game is incredibly harmful to citizens who own SUVs. What does Monsieur Baupin think will happen to the SUV market in Paris given a ban? Individuals would get nowhere near the historic market value for their vehicle given the implementation of a ban. And don’t forget, purchasing or selling a car involves significant transaction costs — dealing with regulations, fees, time, etc.
These types of policies have been tried before in Paris. The net result was a decrease in automobile usage, decreased usage of public transportation (via slower buses), and an estimated loss of €177 million because of slower goods-delivery.