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Cars too big for UK parking spaces - top offenders revealed

By Mathilda Bartholomew | August 31, 2023

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A recent analysis by Which? reveals a significant rise in the number of vehicles struggling to fit within a standard UK parking bay

Cars too big for UK parking spaces - top offenders revealed

While standard UK parking spaces remain unchanged, the growing trend of larger and heavier cars, termed as "Autobesity," raises questions about the adequacy of car parks.

A recent analysis by Which? reveals a significant rise in the number of vehicles struggling to fit within a standard UK parking bay, which has maintained its dimensions for several decades. In comparison to the 2018 count of 129 such vehicles, they now identify 161 cars that surpass the length of a typical UK parking space measuring 16ft x 8ft (4.8m x 2.4m). Impressively, 12 of these vehicles exceed this limit by more than 11.8 inches (30cm).

Furthermore, they also found 27 cars with widths that pose a potential challenge for door opening when parked within a bay. This growing concern brings attention to the need for adaptation in car park designs to accommodate these larger dimensions resulting from the ongoing trend of vehicles becoming larger and heavier.

Which cars are the longest?

Several vehicles that stand out as extreme examples of surpassing standard parking space lengths by a staggering 13.7 inches (35cm) or more. Notably, the BMW i7 claims the title for the lengthiest among them, surpassing the average parking space size by over half a meter.

The consequences of this extend beyond potential costly scratches from neighbouring vehicles; it makes manoeuvring around UK car parks increasing difficult as they were not originally intended to accommodate vehicles of such extended lengths.  

Which cars are the widest?

While Which? haven't identified any cars that exceed the width of an average parking space, there is a notable concern regarding vehicles that might be too wide to comfortably open their doors when surrounded by neighbouring cars. This issue becomes even more complex when considering the variability of parking habits.

There are 7 vehicles from Which?'s evaluations that exemplify notable width dimensions, all exceeding two meters. They established any car providing less than 22cm on each side (totaling 44cm) as 'too wide.'

With the ongoing expansion of average car dimensions, especially driven by the surging popularity of SUVs and crossovers, certain car parks are beginning to address this trend by introducing broader parking bays and designated pedestrian zones.

The British Parking Association (BPA) told Which? that multistorey car parks present a distinct set of obstacles when it comes to accommodating the increasing sizes of vehicles. Their structure isn't easily adaptable, and the prospect of reconstruction proves economically burdensome.

According to the BPA, a well-designed car park strikes a equilibrium between capacity and operational efficiency. While it might seem intuitive to maximise space by incorporating numerous small bays, this approach can ultimately be counterproductive.

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