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A Contrarian View: Autonomous Vehicles and Parking

First of all, assuming that every vehicle is autonomous, how many will there be. My guess is that there will have to be a lot of them if they are to respond with the same alacrity as one would experience if you had your own car. Plus, when they are empty, and not on a call, they have to be somewhere, if even for a few minutes. They aren’t going to just cruise around aimlessly waiting for someone to ask for them. They will need to park.

Plus, what about at night, or midday, when most cars aren’t being used. They will need a place to sit and be serviced, washed, detailed, repaired, and maintained.

It seems that Google’s Waymo, the giant’s autonomous vehicle arm, has hired Avis to supply places to store and maintain the company’s cars.  But car rental companies usually don’t have the space, nor are they located in places where cars tend to be, like downtown.

But what is located downtown where cars could be stored and maintained? Can you say parking garages.

So parking garages could reach out to autonomous vehicle owners and offer these services to them. To Wit:

“Storage and maintenance will mostly like be best suited for parking structures/lots to accommodate self-driving car fleets,” write Ted & Alan Anglyn, of Parking Property Advisors. “While rental car agencies and other fleet management companies are natural matches, their properties are often not in great locations, which somewhat limits both the capacity and the ability to accommodate growth.

Gee, rather than just storing cars, parking operations could repair, maintain, fuel, clean, and provide a myriad of other money making services to the owners of autonomous vehicles.

The quote from Ted and Alan above is from an article you will find in September’s Parking Today. I’m not sure I buy all their comments, however, if, and its a big IF, autonomous vehicles become ubiquitous, someone has to provide the services mentioned. Who better…

JVH

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One Response to A Contrarian View: Autonomous Vehicles and Parking

  1. rta says:

    This article is a little long, but it brings up a very important fact that needs to be considered with regards to the anticipated shift to autonomous vehicles; https://seekingalpha.com/article/4089987-tesla-batteries-mobility-challenge-automakers

    While they are in agreement with a lot of people that the “demand” for an autonomous/electric vehicle will be strong, there are numerous outside factors that could send the entire industry into a tailspin. One of the keys to the whole thing is batteries, and the costs associated with being able to produce enough batteries for the number of cars the manufacturers are talking about is going to be in the tens of billions of dollars, and can take several years to build. That’s just to build the factories, it doesn’t include the cost of actually producing the batteries.

    That being said, who here DOESN’T believe that there will be a major breakthrough in battery technology at some point in the next 5 years that will make today’s lithium batteries obsolete? If that happens (and it almost certainly will) then the investments being sought today for those battery factories needed to produce the cars of tomorrow will become nearly worthless.

    Perfecting the technology necessary to achieve the goal of a fully autonomous vehicle is only one small piece of the puzzle. The economics of producing the cars is going to be the harder piece to figure out. Of course, there may be some trillionaire out there who’s willing to throw 10 or 20 billion at it (you up to it JVH?). Moving to mass production of the vehicles they are talking about is incredibly costly, and the financial risks are as high as can be imagined.

    It’s fun to talk about and debate, but the more I read the more it makes it seem like there’s still got a long way to go before the vision becomes reality.

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