Too big to park

Growing size of new models is a parking nightmare

As the popularity of SUV style car increases, designer build taller wider models to satisfy demands.This, combined with increasing safety features and passenger protection, sees them visibly growing.However, it is becoming an increasing problem on Britain’s ageing road network, not least when it comes to parking. The increasing weight has already led to fears that multi-storey car parks could collapse under the increasing weight.

Official guideline for parking spaces and structure loads remain largely the same as those used in planning during the 60s and 70’s.

Size matters

Almost two-thirds (65%) of motorists say that modern cars are too big for multi-storey car parks. On top of this, more than one-in-four (28%) have dented the car in the next space when opening their door, new research suggests. Many may consider this a conservative admission as anecdotal visual evidence suggests more than 50% of cars have minor dent, probably from public car parks.

The Startline Motor Finance Used Car Tracker research also found that 45% of respondents had been ‘stuck’ in their car because there is not enough room to open the door.

“Many multi-storeys still in use were built in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, states  Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance. “Cars were simply much smaller than they are today”.

“Vehicles have grown substantially thanks to increased safety and comfort measures in the intervening years,” he continues. “Our research shows that drivers don’t feel they can drive around car parks easily as a result.

“The fact that many simply can’t get out of their cars once they are parked shows how bigger cars and undersized parking spaces just don’t match.”

In a scrape

This survey was prompted by research from Which? published in August. It revealed more than 150 car models are now too big to fit in average car parking spaces.

It found that 161 car models it tested were longer than a standard car parking bay, with 12 exceeding the limit by more than 30cm. This was an increase from 2019, when only 129 did not fit the standard bay.

The research also revealed that 27 models are too wide for drivers to comfortably open their doors when parked between two other cars. Which? categorised a car as being “too wide” if its width leaves less than 22cm between the car and the bay.

Startline’s research also showed that 34% of drivers have scraped their car when using a multi-storey.

Furthermore, 71% of people think that car parking spaces should be made bigger. It also found that 54% believe only cars below a certain size should be allowed in car parks.

Heavy weight issues

In June this year, The Institution of Structural Engineers called for the structural design of many of Britain’s multi-storey car parks to be “carefully considered”. This came amid fears that older designs cannot cope with the weight of modern cars, especially electric vehicles with their heavy batteries.

The argue that car park design to evolve to cope with bigger, heavier electric cars, some of which have batteries which can weigh around 500kg.

Ten experts contributed to the potential new guidance. It flags that the greater weight is putting strain on car parks that were built in the 1960s and 1970s for cars of that day and age.

For example, the 1970 Mini 1000 – a popular saloon from the day – weighs 620kg whereas the Kia E-Niro, a contemporary electric car, weighs 2,230kg.
Startline’s Paul Burgess says: “Sadly, there is no easy solution to this problem. Cars are unlikely to start to become smaller any time soon, while rebuilding hundreds or thousands of car parks across the country is just as unlikely.”



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