Sell Parking, Buy Google

Here is a picture of Mary Smith of Walker Parking and John Hammerschlag, of Chicago.

JOhn and Mary at WIP

This shot was taken before Mary held forth on her theory that in 20 years we would be tearing down parking garages and replacing them with bucolic fields of green.

The conversation was at the Women in Parking Reception and we had all had a few adult beverages (except John) but I will try to report what she said. Mary did promise to do an article for me soon.  John’s smile wasn’t quite so broad when he heard her story.

The deal is this. It has to do with driverless cars and the so called ‘zip car’ concept. When you want to go somewhere you will hit a code on your phone and in a few minutes a car will appear in front of you. You will get in and be driven, by computer, to your destination. When you get out, the car will move on to pick up someone else who needs a ride and so on and so on. It will never park, never need a parking space, and our industry will be destroyed.

Mary says it costs 65 cents a mile to drive your own car, this will cost 15 cents a mile. It makes perfect economic sense. It also makes sense when you consider you don’t have to deal with a car, parking, maintenance, or the like, but you STILL have the freedom that individual self drive cars give you. The technology exists today and at the rate things happen, two decades might be the outside limit. What’s not to like.

Mary says the initial studies have been done, the numbers are in. This concept is a go.

There are a number of companies working on this technology, the most prominent is Google which has got test models running on the streets of the US now. Manufacturers are touting the technology — you can see it in the latest Audi commercial (Old Spock vs New Spock  Watch it here — see it completely to the end)

When you consider the economic ramifications, its mind boggling. For instance, how can one accurately compute a PPP, if such technology is looming on the horizon. And that’s only the beginning.

I like it — instead of two or three cars cluttering up your driveway, you invest in one”fun” car and drive it yourself when you want to have fun. Mary says that this concept will reduce traffic on the freeways so driving will actually be fun again.

John, who owns a number of garages in Chicago and other cities, is now wondering if he should sell now or later… and invest in Google.

JVH

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