The Reports of Parking’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

– Mark Twain

I was reading an interesting article called The Self-Driving Car Will Kill the Parking Garage Dead by Nick Lucchesi. While I don’t disagree with the general sentiment I do think people are getting very caught up in the hype.

I attended a recent session at PIE in Chicago called Market Launch Conundrum for Autonomous-‘Driverless’ Vehicles by Dale Denda. The session description is as follows:

This session will review the ‘state of the technology’ of Autonomous-‘Driverless’ Vehicles/ADV from the parking industry’s perspective. This overview evaluates ADV technology based on expert opinion and provides a basic framework for analysis of the issue going forward. Particular emphasis is placed on details of how and why ADV is expected to work versus the reality of today’s market place. 

 A principal question, beyond the status of the emerging Federal regulatory framework, will be addressed: To what extent positive externalities created by ADV technologies in terms of life-saving potential will create a market failure for the system?

In a nut shell, from my past readings and from Dale’s well researched information I think the idea parking is dead is over exaggerated at the current time. Is the potential there, without a doubt yes. Will it be in the near future, no. Safety, technology, city structure, policy and appetite are a few of the variables to argue over.

Some of the areas to ponder: Pros & Cons


  • Decline in road accidents
  • Reduction in traffic flow
  • Reduced dependency on human drivers


  • Safety concerns on the usage of autonomous vehicles
  • Substandard infrastructural conditions
  • Technological challenges for a self-driving system


  • High potential of autonomous vehicles in the commercial sector
  • High anticipated growth rate for component manufacturers
  • New business model for OEMs and insurance companies

There is no doubt the market wants to adopt this shiny penny, but when will it hit a tipping point. I believe there is a long road ahead to ensure all the pieces are tested and work. Regulations, standards, testing, infrastructure, and a viable purchasing market all need to align before autonomous is a true reality.

Even Elon Musk, arguably the most invested individual in this game, has caveats to his BHAG predictions. He sees full autonomy capability in 10 years but knows there are many other pieces to the puzzle that are not close to fitting.

The numbers themselves are compelling for a delay. There are about 2 billion cars in the world and the total annual production capacity is about 100 million cars, which makes sense since the average life of a car before being totally scrapped is about 20-25 years.

So the point for which we see autonomy appear will not be the point when we see a massive impact on people because it will take a lot of time to make enough autonomous vehicles to disrupt. That disruption will take place for about 20 years.

So yes, plan for the future and it may not need to include lots of large parking structures. Develop smart structures that are convertible. Check out the plans for Calgary’s newest parking structure coming this Fall. My 2 cents on the topic and I hope I get to see the future.

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