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Will Parking Space Size Increase to Match Today's Larger Cars?

Car Park Spaces

National Car Parks (NCP) says that they have widened some parking spaces in London, Manchester, and Bournemouth. They intend to continue to increase the width of the spaces in their car parks. The reason the spaces are being altered is to accommodate modern cars which are getting wider. A rise in car park accidents has been attributed to drivers having to use car park spaces that are too small for their cars.

Modern cars are much wider today than they used to be. The problem is that many car parks in operation were built years ago when the cars were smaller. Changes in car width is usually accredited to the rising popularity of SUVs, but even hatchbacks have increased in width. The new hatchbacks are up to a foot wider today than they were in the 1970’s.(1) The spaces in the car parks generally have remained the same size. This lack of updating has caused many drivers to complain about the tight fit of their cars in car parks. 

Cost of Small Parking Spaces

The small size of the spaces may have caused more than annoyance. Car park accidents are occurring more frequently. Accident Exchange, a car leasing company, estimates that there has been a 35% increase in the rate of car park accidents.(2) There are more than 500,000 car park-related accidents every year which costs drivers an estimated £716 million a year in repairs.(1) This means that drivers are having about 1,373 car park accidents every day.

National Car Parks is answering the call for larger parking spaces. National Car Parks is the largest private car park owner and operator in the UK. They own over 500 car parks including parking for airports, National Rail stations, the London Underground, and cities.(3) Customers can check the status of their favorite NCP car parks to see if wider spaces are available by visiting the NCP website.


Car Park Size vs. Car Size

The commonly used standard for car park space size is 4.8m in length, by 2.4m in width. How does this size measure up to today’s popular vehicles? Many of the most popular cars barely leave any room to open car doors within the allotted space.

Car Model



Dacia Duster SUV



Ford Fiesta



Jaguar F-Pace SUV



Mercedes GLC SUV



Nissan Juke SUV



Nissan Qashqai SUV



Peugeot 3008 SUV



Skoda Kodiaq SUV



Vauxhall Astra hatchback



Volkswagen Golf hatchback



Volvo XC90 SUV




As the chart illustrates, many cars only leave .4m or less to open car doors within a typical parking space. This means there is only 20cm on each side of the car for drivers and passengers to exit and enter the vehicle. Modern cars are not growing solely due to consumer tastes. The manufacturers often need to increase the size of the car to incorporate design changes to meet the safety and crash test standards.(1)

The increase in the length of cars affects the availability of on-street parking. As the cars increase in length, they take up more space, allowing for fewer cars to be able to park along the street.

Residential Garages Have Changed to Fit Modern Cars

Residential garages have been affected by larger car sizes as well. Unlike most car parks, garage doors have adapted to the changing times. Garage doors have gotten larger as the consumers’ appetite for larger cars and SUVs has grown. The old standard garage doors were 2.134m(7’) wide. Homeowners who have a garage of this size may find it impossible to park their modern SUVs inside.

Newly constructed homes often have larger garage doors or double garage doors. The standard double garage doors are 14’ or 16’ wide. Even though many construction companies have altered their garage plans to add needed space, not all builders were doing this. The Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) urged construction companies to increase the width of garage doors in 2013 to accommodate larger cars.(4)

Larger Car Park Spaces Means Fewer Spaces

Not everyone supports widening car park spaces. Some people believe that drivers should be encouraged to drive smaller cars which often have better gas mileage than their larger counterparts. However, even some small car models like hatchbacks are considerably wide for a typical parking space.

Local authorities are allowed to make larger spaces, but most parking spaces follow the old standard. The local authorities could make spaces as large as 2.7m wide. National Car Parks recognizes that they need to balance the need for wider spaces with the demand for more spaces.(5)

Some added features such as parking sensors make parking in a tight space a bit easier and safer. While these sensors help guide the driver who is parking the car, they may not make up for the difficulty of getting a large car in a small space. While cars have increased in width by 16% in the last 20 years, the Transport’s minimum space guidelines have remained unchanged since 1994.(1)  Will parking space size finally catch up to the increased sizes of modern cars?



1 "Drivers Have 1,400 Car Park Prangs A Day: Costing Up To £716M A Year". Mail Online. N. p., 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

2 "Parking Bays Widened For Bigger Cars, Says NCP - BBC News". BBC News. N. p., 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

3 "National Car Parks - Find Car Parking For Cities, Airports & Events". N. p., 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

4 Consultancy, Switch. " 75% Of Garages In New Homes "Too Small" Says DHF Survey ". N. p., 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

5 "Parking Bays To Be Widened In UK Following SUV Boom". Auto Express. N. p., 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

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