From July 1, newly installed “smart” meters in the Spanish capital of Madrid will charge higher parking fees to vehicles, which consume large amounts of fuel or emit billows of exhaust fumes.

When a driver pulls into a parking space, they will be prompted to enter their vehicle’s license plate number via a keypad on the smart-meter.  The smart-meters are networked into Spain’s vehicle-registration database. The smart-meter will then set a parking rate based on the car’s age and model. Hybrids and other new, fuel-efficient cars will receive a discount of up to 20%, but if the older vehicles and diesel-powered models will pay a surcharge of as much as 20%. Madrid began introducing smart meters in 2006 and now has approximately 4,000 of them.

Will smart-meters help with the city's pollution problems?

Will smart-meters help with the city’s pollution problems?

In a press release, Mayor Ana Botella said, “Vehicles with lower emissions will be subsidized, and the most polluting will be punished.” The smart-meters have been in place for the last six years but the city hasn’t made full use of their capabilities.

The smart-meters will now also be used to discourage parking in congested areas. The system is linked with sensors, which determine how many parking spaces are available in the area. , This system is used to impose a surcharge for parking in areas where most spaces are already taken.

The city of Madrid has a huge problem with polluted air. Unfortunately the city routinely breaches European Union air-quality standards (especially for nitrogen dioxide from motor vehicle emissions). The city officials are hopeful that owners of the most-polluting vehicles, will opt to drive less and take public transportation more often as they will be when faced with higher parking charges.

But, not everyone thinks this idea will work. Mariano González, a member of a local environmental group, Ecologists in Action, informed the Guardian newspaper earlier this year that the system would be unfair to drivers of older vehicles.

González said the city was trying to appease EU officials, who have threatened to impose fines due to Madrid’s poor air quality. “Maybe you bought a large vehicle this year, say a sports utility vehicle. It could actually have higher emissions than an older, smaller car.”

What do you think? As always, if you would like to leave a sensible comment, then please do so in the comments section below.

[Image via veooz]

SOURCE: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-30/these-parking-meters-know-if-youre-driving-a-gas-guzzler