Australia wants to make its national parking space size bigger, extending its length by almost eight inches. Standards Australia, the non-governing organization that develops measurement and construction code standards, is recommending the parking space increase, due to the increase of average vehicle length in Australia, according to the New York Times. But is it America's fault?
Several Australian news outlets were quick to blame the increase in American pickup truck sales in Australia as the reason for this new parking space increase. "First, they forced us to do Halloween, then they made us listen to Kid Rock," said The Project in a recent Facebook video. "Now the Americans are coming for our roads, hogging them up with their obnoxious, grand old trucks."
American pickups are indeed selling in greater numbers than ever before in Australia. In the first half of 2023, 3,697 Australians purchased themselves a Ram 1500 pickup, according to Car Expert. The Chevy Silverado and its HD variant found a combined 1,568 Australian homes. Those are all record sales for American pickups, so there is some truth to the aforementioned claims that U.S.-made trucks are adding to the increase in overall vehicle length. However, it's only a smidgen of truth.
The real truth is that the Ram 1500, the best-selling full-sized American pickup in Australia, barely cracked the top-ten list of Australian truck sales for the first half of 2023. Compact pickups, such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, still absolutely dominate Australian roads, with 23,620 Rangers and 21,808 Hiluxes being sold from January to June. So American pickups have only contributed a small percentage of overall vehicle length increase.
Additionally, vehicle lengths across the entire industry are significantly larger than what they were when Australian parking spot sizes were last reviewed back in 2004. The 2004 Toyota Hilux—which is perennially one of Australia's best-selling vehicles—was 186 inches long. The current 2023 Toyota Hilux is 207 inches long. Not only are vehicles becoming larger but more customers want larger vehicles than ever before. "Back in 2004 when we last reviewed the standard, about 13% of our national vehicle fleet was an SUV. It’s now about 40%. As our cars have changed, we also need to consider our car parks, ” said Standards Australia General Manager of Engagement and Communications, Adam Stingemore.
This isn't a uniquely Australian, or even American, issue. While the U.S. is the largest market for SUVs, sales of larger vehicles are up across the globe. It might be fun to pin Australia's increase in vehicle size on the U.S., as no one does big trucks like America, but the data doesn't back it up. Cars are getting bigger across the board and parking sizes might need to increase accordingly.
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