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Evolution of Car Sizes in the United States

WASHINGTON--June 16, 2014 The National Parking Association has released a white paper analyzing the manufacturing, sales and market share of smaller vehicles for personal use, known as "light vehicles." The white paper, "Smaller Cars? Not Yet," was written by NPA member Mary S. Smith.

Smith, senior vice president, Walker Parking Consultants, is on NPA's prestigious Parking Consultants Council (PCC), and formerly served as its Chair. NPA's PCC is the only peer-reviewed council in the parking industry, representing top consulting firms, engineers and architects vetted for their qualifications and excellence.

The paper examines vehicle size classification, EPA regulations, sales trends and "size creep" to determine what, if any, change is occurring in relation so the size of today's personal use vehicles.

"There simply hasn't been a truly substantive change (either larger or smaller) in size of vehicles sold in the US, for at least 15 years," said Smith. "If anything, cars in the middle of the market continue to inch larger."

Smith concludes that only a substantial change in gasoline prices will cause a major shift in car sizes, and does not see that as likely given recent increases in gasoline production. She predicts it will be at least four to five more years before any change in vehicle size will be seen, and sees no reason to consider a change in parking dimensions at this time.

Since joining Walker Parking Consultants in 1975, Smith has become widely acknowledged as one of the leading parking planners and functional designers in the world. She has consulted on projects from Barcelona, Spain, to Tokyo, Japan. The impact of changing vehicle sizes on parking dimensions is just one of her many areas of expertise.

A copy of the whitepaper can be downloaded at Car Size Research.