Why Are European Cars Smaller? 9 Interesting Facts (Explained)

Have you ever wondered why the best-sold cars in the UK are usually small hatchbacks?

In fact, according to Auto-Express, the UK’s top 3 most popular models are the Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen T-Roc, and Nissan Qashqai.

Yes, these three models are hatchbacks. Other models widely sold are also small SUVs.

If you live in Europe, you probably know why most citizens make use of small-sized cars. However, for folks who are unsure why this is happening. Jump on this article to find out why European cars are always smaller.

1. Most European Streets Are Small 

There are many reasons why European cars are smaller, but one major reason is the structure of their streets.

Their old cities are not exactly built for large vehicles and we understand this because these cities have been before anyone conceived the idea of making vehicles.

So in cities like Paris or Rome, you might have a hard time maneuvering a full-size vehicle, especially if there is an incoming vehicle of that same size.

For instance, a driver with an F-350 will probably be stuck if there’s an incoming F-350 as well. However, this case is not always so in all parts of Europe, especially in newer cities or the ones rebuilt after the Second World War.

Around this period, the concept of making vehicles was getting popular, so the roads were larger in order to occupy large vehicles. 

2. Europe Has Smaller Country Mass

Another primary reason cars in Europe are smaller is the general lack of space in Europe. And, as such, using large vehicles may simply be impracticable.

According to the World Atlas, it shows that Europe has a lesser population density as it measures 188 people per square mile, while a country like America has more space as its population density comes in at 87 people per square mile.

In fact, in a viral post on Facebook, it started that you could actually put all of Poland into Texas and citizens would still have a decent amount of space to drive around it.

Therefore, most owners have to work with this cramped space, leading to the rise in the usage of smaller vehicles. In spite of their small sizes, European cars are quite popular in America.

3. Cramped Parking Space

If you’ve lived in America or Australia all your life, you would definitely be used to having abundant parking space in the street. I mean, you wouldn’t have to rack your head to get a space when you get to Walmart.

It is another ball game when you cross over to European cities. Parking space is often at a premium both on the street and in parking garages.

In fact, there’s not much space to accommodate a Dodge Ram and there’s no such thing as parallel parking in Europe. 

4. High Fuel Prices Necessitate the Need for Smaller and Fuel-Efficient Cars

The price of gas is very high in Europe and in order to cut down costs, many owners seek highly fuel-efficient cars.

All things being equal, the smallest cars have the highest fuel efficiency because they are equipped with smaller engines and they weigh less.

Smaller engines are considered more economical as there is less space for fuel and air inside the engine to power the car. Besides, small engines are better used for short commutes as they don’t have a revving output for long journeys.

Comparing the prices of gasoline in America and in Europe is an interesting view. The price of gas per gallon in Oslo, Norway, was $6.27 with many other cities having an average of $6 per gallon.

While in America, the average price per gallon was around $4 per gallon, while neighboring cities had an average of $2.6 per gallon of gasoline.

This is proof that gasoline prices in European countries are almost twice those in America. Make sure you check out the differences between American and European cars here.

5. Europe Has Emission Regulations

Unlike other countries, Europe has a very strict rule on vehicle emissions based on the high effect they have on the environment.

Thankfully, since most citizens use smaller vehicles, it may be rare for you to find a full-sized car, which are the major contributors to the emissions, on the road.

According to Hotcars, one of the largest vehicles you’ll see on British roads is probably the Range Rover, which is even hard to find as they are not practicable with street driving. 

6. Europeans Maintain a Minimalist Way of Life

Europeans live a moderate and simple life. This goes as far as penetrating into their daily lives. Most citizens walk, take bikes or buses to their destinations.

They even have smaller servings at restaurants, smaller coffees, and smaller houses. Most times, cars are seen as an extreme luxury and may only come in handy on occasional trips where they have to leave their town.

For holidays, they could either go by train or by rail and they consider it cheaper and more convenient. In Europe, a car is not a basic necessity because it isn’t widely used as a means of transportation. 

On a larger scale, it would seem that the Western European culture shuns or is averse to large things and may consider a full-size SUV as a showoff. Although, this is unlike it is in Eastern Europe, which seems to accept larger vehicles and maybe some extravagant lifestyle. 

7. Europeans Have Smaller Household space

This point is still in alignment with the minimalist lifestyle of Europeans. Most Europeans are more likely to stay in smaller apartments or small attached houses with relatively small belongings in those buildings.

While in the USA, for instance, most house owners enjoy living in large houses. They also own many plots of land and they definitely got more stuff. From personal garages to cars and so much more.

However, the boring life of Europeans helps in a way that they have less need for a towing vehicle or a pickup truck to pack their stuff in case they need to move. This is unlike Americans that own things like kayaks, off-road motorbikes, riding lawnmowers. 

Also, probe into the reasons European cars are better than Japanese ones.

8. Europeans Rarely Tow

Another reason you’ll rarely find large cars in Europe is their almost zero need to tow anything. As emphasized earlier, because of their cramped country space, they hardly have large belongings.

Thus, you’ll hardly see owners having personal trailers that need to be towed. And if they have, which is incredibly rare, it would be very small that a sedan or medium car can easily tow.

While on the other hand, Americans have large trailers and RVs that just any vehicle can not move. This is why they need larger trucks to tow their trailers. Thankfully, they’ve got space for that. 

9. They Realtively Have Lower Incomes

The per capita income in European countries is quite lesser than that of America. For instance, California has a population of only two-thirds of the United Kingdom, but they have a greater GDP.

For better understanding, GDP simply measures the monetary value of finished goods and services used in a country at a particular time. It could be a quarter or a year.

It basically counts all the output generated within the borders of the country. However, this means that Europeans have less money to spend, and that makes them go for smaller, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Thus, if you’re planning to move to Europe, it is good to know that they have a unique culture, economy, and lifestyle. So your dream full-sized car may not just be feasible in Europe. 


8 Reasons Why Europeans Like Small Cars | HotCars

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