City council votes on higher parking fees for “idiot” SUV and ute owners

Despite having only a handful of Hummer SUVs and Ram pick-ups in the area, one council wants to discourage heavy passenger cars in the name of safety – unless they’re electric.

A Melbourne council has given its support for a proposal which could see owners of large SUVs and utes charged higher parking fees.

The Yarra City Council, on the eastern border of Melbourne city, last night voted to explore a motion which seeks to charge parking fees based on the size of each vehicle.

The motion was put forward by Councillor Sophie Wade, who said she was inspired by parking regulations introduced in Paris which discouraged heavier cars and charged parking fees based on weight.

“The key reason I’ve put this forward tonight is to do with safety,” Cr Wade said during the council meeting, claiming the proposal was about improving the safety of children and pedestrians.

“It’s really a matter of one person’s right to drive whatever they want trumping everyone else’s right to [safety] on the street, and I don’t think that’s a compromise we should be willing to make.”

Last month, Cr Wade posted a photo on her Instagram account showing her and four colleagues travelling seven kilometres from St Kilda to Richmond in what appears to be a seven-seat Toyota Kluger.

“If you live in Fitzroy or Collingwood or Richmond and you buy a Hummer you’re an absolute idiot and you need to be dealt with,” Councillor Stephen Jolly said.

“We need to know how many SUVs, Rams, Defenders, [and] Hummers are on the streets of Yarra, how many accidents are coming from these vehicles, how many fines are we charging as a result of a large oversized vehicle taking two parking spots,” he said.

According to analysis by Drive, the Yarra City Council has just three Hummers registered as of December 2023, despite having an estimated population of more than 91,500 residents across its 12 suburbs.

While weighing roughly the same as a Tesla Model 3 Long Range electric sedan, the Hummer H3 – the only Hummer model to have gone on sale in Australia – only sold 1780 vehicles over a two-year period, and hasn’t been available to buy new for 15 years.

Data obtained by Drive also shows just seven Ram pick-ups registered within the Yarra City Council as of December 2023.

However, Cr Jolly also pointed out that the council supported high-rise residential buildings, which inevitably means builders and maintenance contractors who drive utes – as well as there being tradies living in the area who work jobs in the outer suburbs.

“Almost everyone who owns a home or rents has a tradie come at least once,” he told the council meeting.

“We need to ensure our most vulnerable, disadvantaged residents are not disadvantaged by some action we take here.”

It was recommended a report be prepared “to investigate ways to make travelling on Yarra’s streets more equitable and discourage large and heavy vehicles on Yarra’s streets, including by considering proportionate parking fees based on a vehicle’s size”.

The motion also suggested adding exemptions for people with disabilities and owners of electric vehicles.

If such a caveat were to be included in the proposed parking regulations, this would exclude vehicles such as the BMW iX electric SUV – which is both larger than the Hummer H3, as well as being more than 300kg heavier.

While not currently on sale in Australia, excluding electric vehicles would also mean the Ford F-150 Lightning pick-up, the forthcoming Ram 1500 REV pick-up, and the GMC Hummer EV would be theoretically exempt from the parking restrictions – despite the electric Hummer weighing approximately twice as much as a diesel-powered 2024 Land Rover Defender 90.

Ben Zachariah

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than two decades. Ben began writing professionally more than 15 years ago and was previously an interstate truck driver. He completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021 and is considered an expert on classic car investment.

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